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Guide Facing eviction? We can help.

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has resources available for individuals and families struggling to make rent or mortgage payments or facing eviction due to COVID-19. Financial assistance, legal help, and mediation may be available to help you stay in your home. Resources are also available for low-income owner-occupants.

You can also call 2-1-1 at anytime. Get the answers you need. It's free, confidential, and multilingual.

Table of Contents

"I'm behind on rent and facing eviction. How can you help me?"

Help paying your rent

Are you having trouble paying your rent or mortgage because of the COVID-19 pandemic? Have you lost your job or lost income during the Covid-19 health crisis? Are you at risk of becoming homeless?

You may be eligible to receive help with paying your rent or mortgage. Massachusetts offers Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP), administered through regional agencies that can assist low-income households.

Access to free legal help

Through the COVID Eviction Legal Help Project (CELHP) six regional legal aid programs will assist low-income tenants with referrals, legal information, and legal representation for COVID-related evictions statewide in Housing Court.

A lawyer can advise you about the law, refer you to resources, fill out and file court papers, and represent you. A lawyer can help advise you before a case gets to court or if a case is in court. The earlier you contact a lawyer the better.

Mediation between you and your landlord

Massachusetts Community Mediation Centers are offering free pre-court mediation between ​landlords and tenants for ​COVID-19 related lease disputes in addition to the summary process cases referred through the courts.

Mediation is a confidential, voluntary and non-judgmental process where a neutral third party (the mediator) helps people resolve differences based on what is important to them.

"I received a notice to quit. What do I do?"

In Massachusetts, a landlord must send a tenant a Notice to Quit before the landlord can file a summary process (eviction) action. The Notice to Quit is a legal document that formally notifies the tenant that the tenancy will be terminated on a specific date. A Notice to Quit is not an order to leave your home on the date of the lease termination.

NOTE: IF YOU RECEIVE A NOTICE TO QUIT YOU DO NOT NEED TO IMMEDIATELY LEAVE YOUR UNIT. YOU ARE ENTITLED TO A LEGAL PROCEEDING IN WHICH YOU CAN DEFEND AGAINST THE EVICTION. ONLY A COURT ORDER CAN FORCE YOU TO LEAVE YOUR UNIT.

If you have received a Notice to Quit for nonpayment of rent, do not ignore or discard it. You should immediately contact your landlord to try to work out a payment plan. The COVID Eviction Legal Help Project will connect you to information for legal aid programs, nonprofits, government agencies, and court programs that may be able to help you with your legal issue for free or at a low cost. You can then contact your local Housing Consumer Education Center to learn if you are eligible for rental assistance.

"I own and live in my property and also rent out one or more units. How can you help?"

If you own and live in your property and also rent out one or more units, you are considered an owner-occupant, and the Volunteer Lawyers Project (through the COVID Eviction Legal Help Project) may be able to provide legal assistance. Click here to contact the Volunteer Lawyers Project, call them at 617-603-1700, or email at celhp@vlpnet.org.

Do you have tenants having trouble paying rent because of the COVID-19 pandemic? Have your tenants lost a job or lost income during the COVID-19 health crisis? You may be eligible for assistance from the state that will send rent payments directly to you.

Are you currently in court with a tenant or considering filing a notice to quit and proceeding with an eviction? You may be eligible for legal assistance.

You may also be eligible for mortgage assistance under the state’s RAFT or ERMA program. Contact your regional housing agency, where you can connect to various resources, including emergency assistance for eligible owner-occupants of 1-4 family homes. You can find your regional housing agency by clicking here or call 2-1-1 for more information.

Massachusetts Community Mediation Centers are offering free pre-court mediation between ​landlords and tenants for ​COVID-19 related lease disputes in addition to the summary process cases referred through the courts. Mediation is a confidential, voluntary and non-judgmental process where a neutral third party (the mediator) helps people resolve differences based on what is important to them.

Finally, the Federal CARES Act provides protections for owner-occupants of 1-4 family properties with mortgages that are federally or Government Sponsored Enterprise (GSE) backed or funded (FHA, VA, USDA, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac). You can learn about your options, find out if you qualify, and request mortgage relief by visiting the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau website.

"I'm a landlord. What resources are available to me?"

Do you have tenants having trouble paying rent because of the COVID-19 pandemic? Have your tenants lost a job or lost income during the COVID-19 health crisis? They may be eligible for assistance from the state that will send rent payments directly to you, the landlord.

Additionally, landlords who own up to 20 units of housing may apply directly for the state’s assistance programs on behalf of their tenants. After speaking with your tenant, contact your regional agency.

Massachusetts Community Mediation Centers are also offering free pre-court mediation between ​landlords and tenants for ​COVID-19 related lease disputes in addition to the summary process cases referred through the courts. Mediation is a confidential, voluntary and non-judgmental process where a neutral third party (the mediator) helps people resolve differences based on what is important to them.

New Notice to Quit Requirements

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has recently put new requirements in place for landlords regarding the issuance of notices to quit. From December 31, 2020 until the end of the COVID-19 state of emergency, landlords must do the following: 

  1. Together with the notice to quit itself, provide tenants with a completed copy of the Notice to Quit Attestation Form.
  2. Submit a copy of the notice to quit to EOHED.

What is the COVID-19 Eviction Diversion Initiative?

The Baker-Polito Administration announced the Eviction Diversion Initiative to support tenants and landlords during the financial challenges caused by the pandemic. The goal of this comprehensive set of resources is to keep tenants safely in their homes and to support the ongoing expenses of landlords. This strategy was developed by a cross-agency team assembled by the Administration in coordination with the Massachusetts Trial Court and reflects input from a broad range of stakeholders.

I live in private, subsidized or public affordable housing and I am unable to pay rent. How can you help?

If you live in public housing (state or federal units), or eligible privately-owned affordable housing you may be eligible for assistance for assistance through the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP), but you could also access assistance directly through your property owner. 

Talk to your property management company or local housing authority and ask if they are participating in the Subsidized Housing Emergency Rental Assistance (SHERA) program. This new program will allow qualified owners and local housing authorities to apply directly to state agencies for funding. 

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