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COVID-19 Information for Massachusetts

The purpose of this page is to provide apartment industry professionals with an overview of the issues affecting our industry with regard to the COVID-19 pandemic. The page is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute, and should not be construed as, legal advice. This resource is not intended to provide a mandatory standard of care for the industry.

State and Local Affiliates

Please remember to use your state or local apartment association as the primary resource for the most up-to-date information on your responsibilities. Find your local affiliate.

State Legal and Regulatory Information

We highly suggest you contact a local attorney before you decide to initiate an eviction action against a resident in the current environment as overlaying federal, state and county laws or restrictions on the judicial process may apply. This includes: issuing a notice to vacate, initiating any eviction-related action, or assessing fees or penalties on residents for nonpayment of rent or other lease violations. In addition to the below, you can access NAA's statutory information on late fees, eviction laws and other policy issues.

Shelter in Place 

Effective Tuesday, April 28, 2020, Governor Charlie Baker has formally extended Massachusetts’ closure of non-essential businesses and mass gatherings of more than 10 people. This order will remain in effect until Monday, May 18, 2020. Non-essential businesses shall remain closed until April 7, 2020, subject to extension.  Essential business activities, such as maintaining continuity of building operations, are exempt from closure.

Effective Monday, May 18, 2020, Governor Baker issued COVID-19 Order No. 33. The order permits the opening of certain businesses which include:

  • Essential services;

  • Manufacturing;

  • Construction;

  • Places of worship; and

  • Firearms retailers and shooting ranges.

The order also lists the phased reopening of other businesses by date. This order shall remain in effect until rescinded.

Massachusetts issued COVID-19 Order No. 35, which went into effect on Monday, June 1, 2020, and is set to expire Sunday, November 1, 2020, or when rescinded.

State of Emergency

Governor Charlie Baker declared a state of emergency on March 10, 2020.

Eviction

H. 4615

  • Action: Limits the rights of property owners to access the Courts to resolve disputes

  • Scope: Prohibition on terminating tenancies or sending any notices, including notices to quit, for non-essential eviction actions. Non-essential eviction actions include nonpayment of rent, foreclosure, for no fault or no cause, or for a cause which does not involve or include allegations of criminal activity or lease violations that may impact the health or safety of other tenants, health care workers, emergency personnel, persons lawfully on the property or the general public.

  • Duration: 120 days or 45 days after the state emergency declaration is lifted, whichever is sooner. The Governor may postpone the expiration of the bill for a period of time, which cannot go past 45 days after the emergency declaration is lifted.

  • COVID-19 Related Financial Impact Requirement: Yes, for the prohibition on charging late fees. Residents must provide notice and documentation no later than 30 days after a rent payment is missed. 

  • Residents Responsible for Rent: Yes.

  • Additional Commentary: Allows property owners to utilize last month’s rent (security deposit) to pay for expenses, if the housing provider notifies the tenant in writing. However, owners and operators must provide tenants with the same interest that would have accrued if the housing provider had not utilized last month’s rent and prohibits housing providers from deducting money from the last month’s rent for any non-payment of rent. See Greater Boston Real Estate Board’s (GBREB) summary for more details.

Rental Assistance/Housing Provider Assistance

No statewide emergency rental assistance for Massachusetts.

Rent Freeze

No rent freeze is in effect at the state or local level. Local rent regulation is preempted by Massachusetts Code Ch. 40P § 4-5.

Price-Gouging Law

Under Massachusetts Code § 940.3.18, it is unlawful to sell any petroleum or gas product at an unconscionably high price. The statutory language does not apply to any other goods or services.

Local Legal and Regulatory Information

Boston

Eviction

Boston Mayor Martin Walsh, the Massachusetts Apartment Association, and the Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporation, a trade group for nonprofit affordable housing operators, joined Saturday (March 14th) in instructing apartment management staff to suspend eviction actions for 90-days

Greg Casil, CEO of the Greater Boston Real Estate Board (GBREB), said the moratorium could extend further. GBREB is urging smaller landlords to join in the effort.

Rental Assistance/Housing Provider Assistance

On April 6, 2020, the City of Boston will begin providing $3 million in in rental subsidies to low-income renters experiencing COVID-19 related financial hardship.

Eligible applicants must earn less than 80% of the area median income and may be awarded up to $4,000 in assistance. 

Cambridge 

Rental Assistance/Housing Provider Assistance

In response to the public health crisis created by COVID-19 (Coronavirus), Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui and City Manager Louis A. DePasquale activated the Mayor's Disaster Relief Fund on March 19, 2020 to provide emergency assistance to individuals and families in Cambridge who are experiencing financial hardship due to the virus outbreak. Thanks to the generosity of the Cambridge community, more than $3.3 million has been raised and the Fund continues to accept donations.

Funds will be allocated for rent and/or utility payments and other household needs. Funds will also be allocated for mortgage payments for homes purchased through the City's affordable homeownership programs.

Additional information about eligibility guidelines, the application process, and required supporting documentation are available below. For full details, see the Mayor's Disaster Relief Fund Application Instructions and Information (PDF).

Lawrence

Eviction

Emergency Resolution

On March 18, 2020, the City Council unanimously approved Mayor Daniel Rivera's request for an emergency resolution calling for a 60-day moratorium on rent and mortgage payments for those who have lost pay because of school or business closures.

A virtual City Council meeting took place March 31, 2020 at which the council will be asked to determine parameters for the proposed ordinance. There has been no update since. A statewide moratorium is in effect.  

North Andover

Rental Assistance/Housing Provider Assistance

The North Andover Board of Selectman and the North Andover Affordable Housing Trust have established an emergency rental assistance program for those facing financial hardship due to COVID-19.

The $100,000 program will be available to those individuals and families making no more than 100% of the area median income. The monthly grant amount will be the difference between the monthly rent and 30% of the household’s gross monthly income.

Quincy

Rental Assistance/Housing Provider Assistance

Per The Patriot Ledger, the Quincy Affordable Housing Trust Fund Committee approved the use of $1 million to provide direct rent assistance for workers economically impacted by COVID-19. Criteria for the program has yet to be established.

Williamstown

Rental Assistance/Housing Provider Assistance

The board of the Williamstown Affordable Housing Trust will partner with Pittsfield's Berkshire Housing Development Corp. on an emergency rental assistance program in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Residents of rental properties in Williamstown who make 100 percent or below the area median income and have "suffered financial setbacks due to the COVID-19 pandemic" will be eligible for grants would ranging from $500 to $1,000.