The federal ban on evictions during the COVID-19 pandemic has ended. The Supreme Court recently ruled that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) did not have the power to impose the ban on evictions, which had protected people in most of Massachusetts from eviction. This decision means that more Massachusetts landlords could try to bring eviction cases in situations where a tenant is behind on rent.
Even though the federal eviction ban has ended, there are still protections and resources available to help people who have fallen behind on rent.
At least three cities in Massachusetts have created local eviction bans: Boston, Malden, and Somerville. People living in these cities cannot be evicted for failing to pay rent.
However, the local eviction bans do not prevent landlords from starting the eviction process by filing eviction cases in court, so renters should still pay attention to court deadlines and be prepared to fight their eviction cases in court. There is legal help available to help you fight an eviction case: find resources and more information about legal aid organizations that may be able to help.
Help is available.
Anyone who has fallen behind on rent should apply for rental assistance. Veterans and families of those who have served may also be able to access help through a safety net program called Chapter 115. The Chapter 115 program provides monthly payments to eligible veterans and their families. The program also offers one-time emergency payments, which can be used to catch up on rent and utilities.
If your landlord takes an eviction case against you to court and you have applied for rental assistance, the eviction should be placed on hold until your application for assistance is approved or rejected. You cannot be evicted from your home while your case is on hold. In order to learn more about your rights as a tenant and to ensure your rights are protected, visit the Mass Legal Help guide to housing rights during the COVID-19 crisis.
If your landlord is trying to evict you, don’t leave! You should stay in your home, apply for rental assistance, and seek legal help. As this video from the COVID Eviction Legal Help Project explains, you do not need to leave your apartment if you receive a “Notice to Quit” or your landlord tells you they are filing an eviction case against you. Only a court can order you to leave your home.
There are community groups throughout Massachusetts that offer help with rent or mortgage payments and provide free legal help to people facing eviction. This video explains how to find help, including programs that can help you pay your rent, utilities, and moving expenses. You can start your application for assistance by calling 800-224-5124, or by visiting mass.gov/CovidHousingHelp.
The Veterans Legal Clinic strongly encourages veterans and their eligible dependents to apply for assistance, including Chapter 115 benefits, if they are struggling financially and are concerned about losing their housing. These benefits recognize the service that veterans have provided to our state and our country. They are also an important source of support for the families of those who have served.
For more information and for help completing your application for Chapter 115 benefits, please reach out to your Veterans’ Service Officer (VSO). Each town and district in Massachusetts has a VSO who can help veterans and their families learn about and access benefits and other resources. Click here to find your VSO.
You can use our online calculator to find out whether you might be eligible to receive Chapter 115 benefits and about how much your monthly benefit might be. You can use this calculator before you apply for benefits, or you can apply right away.
If you are ready to apply now, you can find the Chapter 115 benefits application here. To complete the application, you will need documents including your discharge papers, proof of residency, and recent bank statements. Your VSO can give you advice about which documents are required and can help you complete your application.
If DVS denies your application or your benefits are cut off, you have a right to appeal. If you want to request legal help with an appeal or have questions about Chapter 115 rules, please contact the Veterans Legal Clinic intake line at 617-390-2525 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.