Supports for Tenants and Property Owners during the Pandemic Transition
Stacey J. Drubner, JD, LICSW, MPH
As we transition out of the Pandemic, many people are still concerned about making rent or mortgage payments. Whether your family was impacted by a health issue or is coping with lost income, you can still access assistance. There are financial supports and legal protections available to help you keep or stay in your home.
The Federal eviction moratorium is no longer in effect, but the City of Boston has issued a new moratorium until further notice. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts also has protections in place through April 2022. For full information about housing supports, please refer to EAP COVID-19 Housing section.
Rental and Mortgage Help
Rent and mortgage assistance programs are still in place to assist both tenants and landlords. Moratoriums and protections do not forgive payments. Eventually you must pay these amounts in full. The programs below have varied eligibility requirements. Whether or not you are able to benefit from government assistance, it is important to communicate with your landlord or lender to determine if there is some flexibility or room for negotiation. Sometimes it may be helpful to at least pay something to show a good faith effort in meeting the requirements of your lease or mortgage.
- Mass.Gov – COVID Housing Help
– Rent assistance applications for tenants, or which landlords (with 20 units or less) can file on behalf of tenants
- Mass.Gov – Details on the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP)
– This program pertains only to the Pandemic-related financial issues
- Metro Housing Boston-Information and Applications for Financial Housing Assistance (RAFT, ERMA & ERAP)
– These programs offer assistance, even if there are financial issues unrelated to COVID
- Access the Agency Handling ERMA and RAFT by Town
- City of Boston Rental Relief Fund Eligibility
– Open to Boston residents. Households may only apply for COVID-related rent relief from either the City of Boston or the Commonwealth of MA
- ABCD Rental Assistance – Boston, Malden, Medford
- New Hampshire Emergency Rental Assistance – COVID
- Enterprise Mortgages (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) Extend Foreclosure Moratorium through September 2021
- Consumer Finance Protection Bureau – Help for homeowners
- Nerd Wallet – COVID-19 Mortgage Relief for Homeowners Facing a Payment Crisis
General Housing Assistance
- CHAPA – COVID-19 Housing Assistance
- Boston.Gov – Office of Housing Stability
– Virtual Clinic for small landlords and tenants: Tuesdays at 5:30 p.m. Complete the online form to register
– Virtual walk-in hours to answer your housing questions: Wednesdays from 12 – 2 p.m. Complete the online form to register
- NH DHHS – Community Support and Housing Resource Guide
- Consumer Finance Protection Bureau – Help for renters
- Animal Rescue League – Temporary Pet Housing when Owners Facing Eviction due to COVID-19
- Mass General Brigham EAP – General Housing Crisis Resources
Update on the Commonwealth of MA eviction protections (effective June 2021)
- Tenants with Pending Rental Relief Applications: The courts will continue offering temporary continuances to tenants who have filed applications for rental assistance, thereby preventing evictions in cases where tenants are unable to pay rent due to COVID-19-related financial hardship until April of 2022.
- Helping Tenants Understand their Legal Options: Landlords notifying tenants to leave a dwelling for nonpayment of rent must also provide a form that reads: “This notice to quit is not an eviction. 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.” The form must also include information on rental assistance programs, applicable trial court rules and any relevant federal or state legal restrictions on residential evictions.
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgage holder obligations for tenants
Property owners with Enterprise-backed multifamily mortgages who enter into a new or modified forbearance agreement must:
- Inform tenants in writing about tenant protections available during the property owner’s forbearance and repayment periods
- Agree not to evict tenants solely for the nonpayment of rent while the property is in forbearance
- Give tenants at least a 30-day notice to vacate
- Not charge tenants late fees or penalties for nonpayment of rent
- Allow tenant flexibility in the repayment of back-rent over time, and not necessarily in a lump sum
Other Legal Supports
- Greater Boston Legal Services – COVID Housing Help
- Covid Eviction Legal Help Project
- Mass Legal Help – Information on the CDC Moratorium – Expires July 31, 2021
- Mass Legal Help – Understanding Eviction
- NH Legal Aid
- Mass General Brigham EAP – Assistance with Finding an Attorney
- Legal Resources for Mass General Brigham Employees
Resources for Balancing your Budget for Bills unrelated to Housing
Statistics show that many people are meeting rent requirements, but maybe at the expense of paying other bills. Below are some resources for managing debt. If you find yourself struggling with making ends meet.
- Consider speaking with your utility or credit card company to work out a payment plan, rather than letting unpaid bills accumulate
- It’s a good idea to get regular updates on your credit situation. Through April 20, 2022, you can check once per week via Annualcreditreport.com. Experian, Equifax and TransUnion are all participating in this special allowance
- EAP – COVID-19 Financial Resources
- EAP General Financial Well-being Resources
Contacting the EAP
For confidential assistance with any housing or financial issue, or to request an appointment, employees, IHP student and eligible household members can contact the EAP at 866-724-4327, or via our online form.