Introducing legislation to halt evictions and foreclosures during COVID-19 emergency.

Updated: Mar 23

State Representative Mike Connolly is joining with Rep. Kevin Honan, House Chair of the Joint Committee on Housing, to file legislation to halt evictions and foreclosures in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency.



The text of the bill, HD.4935, An Act Providing for a Moratorium on Evictions and Foreclosures During the COVID19 Emergency, is posted below and is also available here via .pdf file.

In this time of unprecedented concern over the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), Governor Baker has declared a State of Emergency and members of the public are being asked to practice social distancing and follow the advice of public health agencies to reduce the spread of the virus.

A moratorium on evictions and foreclosures and related legal proceedings will protect public health and safety by keeping vulnerable residents sheltered, by reducing crowding within the courts and in shelters, and by helping to limit further disruptions and additional strain on our already-fractured social safety net.

Reps. Connolly and Honan began work on this legislation following the Governor's declaration of a State of Emergency on March 10. They would like to thank House Counsel, City Life/Vida Urbana, Lawyers for Civil Rights, Greater Boston Legal Services, and other advocates for working on the drafting of the bill. 

The legislation was filed at noontime on Friday, March 13. In addition, the sponsors of the bill are joining with others in calling on Governor Baker and the Courts to use their own authority to halt evictions and foreclosures for the duration of this emergency. To that end, Reps. Connolly and Honan also sent this letter to the Chief Justice of the Housing Court and this letter to the Chief Justice of the Trial Courts..

The text of the bill is posted below. This blog post may be updated as more information becomes available.

HD.4935, An Act Providing for a Moratorium on Evictions and Foreclosures During the COVID19 Emergency.

Whereas, The deferred operation of this act would tend to defeat its purpose, which is to establish forthwith a Moratorium on Evictions and Foreclosures during the Governor’s COVID 19 emergency declaration , therefore it is hereby declared to be an emergency law, necessary for the immediate preservation of the public safety, health and convenience.

            Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:

            SECTION 1. (a) Notwithstanding chapters 186 or 239 of the General Laws or any general or special law to the contrary, no court having jurisdiction of an action for summary process pursuant to chapter 239 or other form of eviction action shall: (i) enter a judgment or default judgment for a plaintiff for possession of a residential dwelling unit, (ii) issue an execution for possession of a residential dwelling unit; (iii) accept for filing a writ, summons or complaint for possession of a residential dwelling; or (iv) deny, upon the request of a defendant, a stay of execution or continuance of a summary process case from the date of the emergency declaration issued by the Governor, dated March 10, 2020 and designated as executive order number 591, until such time as the emergency declaration is rescinded by the governor.

            (b) Any deadline or time period for action by a party to a summary process defendant, such as a date to answer a complaint, or to appeal a judgment, is tolled until the emergency declaration is rescinded by the governor.  The time period for action shall begin to run from when the emergency declaration is rescinded by the governor.

            (c) No sheriff, deputy sheriff, constable or other person shall enforce or levy upon an execution for possession from the date of the emergency declaration issued by the Governor, dated March 10, 2020 and designated as executive order number 591, until such time as the emergency declaration is rescinded by the governor.  A violation of this subsection shall be punishable by a fine of $5,000 or 6 months imprisonment in a county jail, or by both.

            SECTION 2. Notwithstanding chapters 239 or 244 of the General Laws or any general or special law to the contrary, no creditor, mortgagee or person having estate in the land mortgaged, or a person authorized by a power of sale pursuant to section 14 of said chapter 244  or right of entry, or the attorney duly authorized by a writing under seal or the legal guardian or conservator of such mortgagee or person acting in the name of such mortgagee or person, shall for the purposes of foreclosure of a residential property, as that term is defined in section 35B of said chapter 24: (A)(i) cause publication of notice of a foreclosure sale pursuant to said section 14; (ii) exercise a power of sale; (iii) exercise a right of entry or (B) (i) initiate a summary process action from the date of the emergency declaration issued by the Governor, dated March 10, 2020 and designated as executive order number 591, until such time as the emergency declaration is rescinded by the governor.  A violation of this section shall be punishable by a fine of $5,000 or 6 months imprisonment in a county jail, or by both.y!



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