Eviction Moratorium for Landlords of Properties with Federally Backed Mortgages
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the “Act”) was signed into law on March 27, 2020 and establishes a 120 day moratorium on evictions at of properties that have federally backed mortgage loans or receive other forms of federal assistance.
Which Properties Are Impacted: The provisions of the Act addressed in this article apply to nearly all forms of federally assisted rental housing programs, including:
- Public housing
- Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Programs
- Section 8 project-based housing
- Low Income Housing Tax Credit properties
Additionally, the Act covers properties that have a Federally backed mortgage loan or a Federally backed multifamily mortgage loan, including loans through Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.
For a period of 120 days (from March 27, 2020 through July 25, 2020), properties subject to a federally backed mortgage loans or which fall within the affected properties described above are restricted from evicting tenants for non-payment of rent. Those landlords are specifically prohibited from initiating legal proceedings for non-payment of rent; charging late fees or other penalties for non-payment of rent; and issuing notices to vacate.
Notably, these restrictions DO NOT apply to evictions based on other types of lease violations, such as noise complaints, smoking, or other non-rent violations.
30 Day Notices to Quit For Non Payment Following 120 Day Eviction Moratorium:
The Act also includes language which temporarily changes the Commonwealth’s 14-day notice to quit period for tenants who have failed to pay rent. The Act provides that following the 120 day period, landlords will not be allowed to require tenants to vacate their unit before the date that is “30 days after the date on which the landlord provides the tenant with a notice to vacate.”
As a practical matter, this means that property managers and landlords should be prepared to send out 30-day notices to quit for non-payment of rent, rather than 14-day notices to quit, once the eviction moratorium period has ended.
What Should You Do?
First, you should determine whether the Act applies to your property. As noted above, not all properties are subject to the Act. If your property is a covered property, you should inform all your property managers that, during the moratorium, no notices to quit should be sent out and that new court cases cannot be filed. Also, make sure you do not charge any late fees until the moratorium has expired.
You may continue with any evictions or court cases based upon grounds other than payment of rent. Most Massachusetts Courts are still allowing eviction cases to be filed, and the moratorium only applies to cases for non-payment of rent. If tenants are causing disturbances or violating their lease in other ways, you may continue to enforce those lease provisions.
Also, make sure you are ready to send out 30-day notices to quit for non-payment of rent once the moratorium ends. Large multi-family properties may need to change existing templates and/or their computer systems in order to draft compliant notices.
Attorney Andrew M. Kepple has more than 10 years of experience in state and federal courts, concentrating his practice in the areas of landlord-tenant law, civil litigation and employment law.
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