We previously reported that on April 20, 2020, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts enacted emergency legislation imposing moratoriums on certain evictions and foreclosures of primarily residential properties and some commercial properties due to Governor Baker’s “COVID-19 Emergency Declaration.”  The aptly-named Eviction and Mortgage Foreclosure Moratorium Act (the “EMFM Act”) was an emergency law that took effect immediately, providing restrictions on covered eviction and foreclosure activities generally for a period of 120 days, or until 45 days after the COVID-19 Emergency Declaration was lifted, whichever occurred sooner.[1]  The EMFM Act’s eviction and foreclosure moratorium provisions were slated to expire on August 18, 2020.

Exercising his emergency powers, Governor Baker notified the Massachusetts Legislature and announced on July 21, 2020 that he has extended the key eviction and foreclosure moratorium terms of the EMFM Act by sixty days until midnight on October 17, 2020.[2]  It also appears that the extension of the foreclosure moratorium extends a residential mortgagor’s right to request a payment forbearance of up to 180 days, although it is not expressly addressed in the announcement.[3]  The eviction and foreclosure moratorium and mortgage forbearance provisions are described in detail in our prior update.

Governor Baker’s extension takes the pressure off the Legislature to act on proposed legislation by the end of the current legislative term on July 31, 2020.  Currently pending in the Legislature’s Housing Committee are bills that, among other provisions, propose to impose the EMFM Act’s eviction and foreclosure moratoriums for a year after its original enactment--until April 2021.[4]

In his Press Release, Governor Baker stated that, despite the continuing moratoriums, “[t]enants are strongly encouraged to continue to pay rent, and homeowners to make their mortgage payments, to the extent they are able.”[5]  The Baker Administration pledged its support of “low-income households in making rent and mortgage payments, as well as . . . landlords needing these rent payments to pay expenses,” by highlighting the launch on July 1, 2020 of a new $20 million, statewide fund, the Emergency Rental and Mortgage Assistance (ERMA) program.[6]  He also pledged to continue to have his Administration “consult with the court administrators and other stakeholders regarding programs and policies to help tenants avoid eviction when proceedings resume” upon expiration of the eviction and foreclosure moratoriums in the EMFM Act.[7]

 

[1] EMFM Act §§ 6, 7; Ch. 65 of the Acts of 2020.

[2] Id.; see https://www.mass.gov/news/baker-polito-administration-extends-moratorium-on-evictions-and-foreclosures-to-october-17.

[3] EMFM Act § 8; Ch. 65 of the Acts of 2020.

[4] See S.2831 (“An Act to Guarantee Housing Stability During the COVID-19 Emergency and Recovery”); HD.5166 (“An Act to Guarantee Housing Stability During the COVID-19 Emergency and Recovery”).

[5] https://www.mass.gov/news/baker-polito-administration-extends-moratorium-on-evictions-and-foreclosures-to-october-17.

[6] Id.

[7] Id.

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