Bendett & McHugh,P.C.

Massachusetts state COVID-19 update provided by Bendett & McHugh, P.C.

Posted: 10/20/20

Massachusetts is currently under a State of Emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker declared the State of Emergency on March 10, 2020 to be in place until it is expressly lifted at a future unknown date.

On Saturday October 17, 2020, the Massachusetts Foreclosure & Eviction Moratoria pursuant to Chapter 65 of the Acts of 2020 expired and the Governor did not extend the moratoria. Therefore, we welcome you to remove any Massachusetts Covid holds at this time.   Please note that this does not affect any current federal moratoria in place.

There is legislation pending which, if it becomes law, would reinstate the expired foreclosure and eviction moratoria until 12 months after the Emergency Declaration in Massachusetts is rescinded. The expiration date is uncertain because the Emergency Declaration has not been rescinded as of the date of this alert. Please note that the Declaration of the State of Emergency states that the State of Emergency will remain in effect until further notice is given by the Governor and there is no indication that the Governor is planning on rescinding the Declaration any time soon.

For questions regarding Massachusetts Foreclosure updates, please contact Ashley Torres at atorres@bmpc-law.com or 860-606-1036.

Eviction:

Last week, Governor Baker announced a new $171 million relief initiative designed to help tenants and landlords experiencing financial hardships resulting from the coronavirus epidemic.   Governor Baker states that the goal of this initiative is to keep tenants in their homes and ease the ongoing expenses of landlords once the state’s pause on evictions and foreclosures expires on October 17, 2020.  The majority of the funding is earmarked to assist tenants facing eviction by providing funding to community organizations such as Residential Transition for Families in Transition (“RAFT”), as well as to assist landlords facing financial hardships as a result of the epidemic.  Further funding will be given to community legal aid organizations to provide legal assistance to both tenants and landlords once eviction filings begin, which could be as early as next week.  As a result, we anticipate an influx of evictions, many of which we anticipate will become contested by former homeowners and tenants continuing to occupy properties following foreclosure.  In light of the October 17, 2020  lifting of the moratoria on evictions, we welcome your REO departments to remove any COVID related holds on eviction actions at this time. 

Further supporting the anticipated lifting of the eviction prohibition, the Housing Courts in Massachusetts have adopted temporary Standing Order 6-20 providing procedural and operational guidance to landlords and tenants in anticipation of the number of evictions that will soon be filed.  Below please find a link regarding the announcement by the Governor, as well as the Housing Court Standing Order discussed above.  The Standing Order will require the Housing Courts to accept new eviction filings, as well as enter judgments for possession, but will not allow sheriff evictions/lockouts to occur until after December 31, 2020.

https://www.boston.com/news/local-news/2020/10/12/baker-171m-plan-rental-relief

https://www.mass.gov/housing-court-rules/housing-court-standing-order-6-20-temporary-modifications-to-court-operations

 For questions regarding Massachusetts Evictions updates, please contact Sarah Billeri at sbilleri@bmpc-law.com or 508-809-8039.

For questions regarding Massachusetts updates, please contact Ashley Torres at atorres@bmpc-law.com or 860-606-1036.

Post by – Bendett & McHugh,P.C.

Bendett & McHugh,P.C.

Massachusetts state COVID-19 update provided by Bendett & McHugh, P.C.

Posted: 07/16/20

Massachusetts is currently under a State of Emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker declared the State of Emergency on March 10, 2020 to be in place until it is expressly lifted at a future unknown date. 

Foreclosure:

Massachusetts House Bill 4647 was enacted April 20, 2020 and provides that unless a property is vacant or abandoned, no foreclosure notice can be published, no foreclosure by sale or entry may occur, no foreclosure via non-judicial means (notice of sale mailing) or judicial means (superior court action) may be commenced and no Servicemember’s action may be filed with the Land Court until the sooner of 120  days from enactment of this section or 45 days following the lifting of the current Emergency Order in Massachusetts. Practically, this means that absolutely no foreclosure action may occur during this time period. The latest date by which action can recommence is August 18, 2020. The provisions of this section may also be extended by the Governor beyond 120 days in 90 day increments. 

Although there is an exception for vacant properties, title insurers have differing opinions with regards to insurability of foreclosure sales of vacant properties during this timeframe. One insurer stated they would need a court order establishing vacancy prior to the sale in order to insure the foreclosure sale that took place during this time. Another stated they would accept a property inspection report or an affidavit of vacancy signed by the servicer; however, this insurer warned that due to the limited re-opening of the state at this time, it will not insure a sale on a vacant property. The rationale is that limited bidders would appear at the auction due to the restrictions on gathering. Given this, we do not recommend scheduling sales for vacant properties at this time.

Although not specifically outlined in the law, title insurers recently informed BMPC that they interpret the law to prohibit the mailing of contractual and statutory demand letters, as well as the execution and/or recording of the 35B Affidavit. 

Required Loan Forbearance: 

Massachusetts House Bill 4647 was enacted April 20, 2020 and provides that a mortgagee must grant a forbearance to a borrower of an owner occupied 1-4 family house when requested due to a COVID-19 financial impact- regardless of whether the investor is a government sponsored entity. Such forbearance should not be more than 180 days. During this forbearance, no additional fees, charges or interest other than what was already scheduled to be due may accrue. The payments due during the forbearance must be added to the end of the term of the loan unless alternative agreement is reached between the lender and the borrower. 

Eviction:

Property owners are prohibited from terminating a tenancy, sending a Notice to Quit or requesting that the occupant vacate the premises for a non-essential eviction. Additionally, courts hearing eviction matters are prohibited from accepting the filing of a summons, writ or complaint for eviction, entering judgment or default judgment for the plaintiff for possession or scheduling any court event including a trial. The courts may not also deny any request for continuance or stay of execution. Deadlines are likewise tolled.

For questions regarding Massachusetts updates, please contact Ashley Torres at atorres@bmpc-law.com or 860-606-1036.

Post by – Bendett & McHugh,P.C.