Senate Passes Bill to Protect Renters, Homeowners and Small Businesses

COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS
MASSACHUSETTS SENATE
STATE HOUSE, BOSTON 02133-1053

Senator Joan B. Lovely
State Senator
2nd Essex District

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

April 10, 2020

SENATE PASSES BILL TO PROTECT RENTERS, HOMEOWNERS AND SMALL BUSINESSES
Legislation prohibits evictions and foreclosures during the COVID-19 state of emergency

BOSTON – The Massachusetts State Senate passed An Act providing for a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures during the COVID-19 emergency to provide a critical safety net for renters, homeowners and small businesses grappling with the immediate economic fallout of the current public health pandemic.

“Staying home is an essential component to ending this pandemic, and the Massachusetts State Senate is committed to making sure that our residents will be allowed to stay in their homes for the duration of this public health crisis,” stated Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). “I would like to thank all of the Senators, particularly Senator Crighton and Senator Rodrigues, for working so diligently on this important legislation during this very difficult time.”

“Thanks to the leadership of Senate President Spilka, and the hard work and collaborative efforts of Senator Crighton, we have acted swiftly today to protect renters, homeowners and small businesses experiencing sudden financial hardship during this public health crisis,” said Senator Michael J. Rodrigues, Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means (D-Westport). “With the passage of this bill, we demonstrate our unrelenting commitment to doing everything we can in the Senate to address urgent public health needs, mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and help those struggling and in dire need of aid.”

“We must protect renters, homeowners and small businesses facing hardships during this challenging time,” stated Senator Joan B. Lovely (D-Salem). “I stand with my colleagues in doing everything I can to keep Commonwealth residents safe during this extraordinary public-health emergency.”

A moratorium on all stages of the eviction and foreclosure processes.  The bill extends eviction protections to renters and small businesses during the state’s COVID-19 state of emergency and places a moratorium on all stages of the eviction process for non-essential evictions for a period of 120 days after the bill becomes law. The bill authorizes the governor to extend the moratorium beyond 120 days, if the crisis continues.  The moratorium on evictions prohibits, for non-essential evictions, a landlord or property owner from terminating a tenancy or sending a notice to quit, prohibits a court from entering a default judgement, prevents the scheduling of  court hearings, and prohibits the enforcement of an execution to forcibly remove a tenant.

In addition to a moratorium on the eviction process, the bill extends protections to homeowners and halts the foreclosure process for a period of 120 days after the bill becomes law to ensure homeowners and residential property owners are protected throughout this public health crisis.

Mortgage forbearance for homeowners experiencing financial hardship from COVID-19.  The Senate bill protects homeowners by requiring mortgage lenders to grant a forbearance of up to 180-days on required mortgage payments, if a homeowner submits a forbearance request demonstrating a financial impact from COVID-19. In addition, the bill protects homeowners by prohibiting mortgage lenders from furnishing negative mortgage payment information to a consumer reporting agency and prohibits the accrual of fees, penalties or interest during the life of the forbearance granted.

A prohibition on late fees and negative credit reporting.  The Senate bill also provides renters and homeowners struggling financially with additional protections during this uncertain time and prohibits landlords from imposing late fees for non-payment of rent for a residential dwelling or small business. Similarly, the bill prohibits landlords from sending payment data to credit reporting agencies related to the non-payment of rent.  These protections are available to a tenant if the tenant provides notice and documentation to the landlord within 30 days of the missed rent payment that the non-payment was related to a financial impact from COVID-19.

The use of video conferencing or phone for reverse mortgage real-time counseling.  To promote strict adherence to social distance measures during this public health crisis, the bill allows a person applying for a reverse mortgage to receive counseling conducted virtually through real-time video conference or by phone in lieu of in-person counseling until the COVID-19 state of emergency is lifted by the Governor.

An Act providing for a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures during the COVID-19 emergency now moves to the Massachusetts House of Representatives for consideration.

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