With the state’s eviction moratorium currently set to expire on Oct. 17, Boston Mayor Martin Walsh is taking strides to protect the city’s renters ahead of a “potential housing crisis.”
Walsh said he intends to file an ordinance Monday with the City Council that would require property owners beginning the eviction process to give their tenants information about their rights and resources.
The city is also working with state lawmakers to get behind a counsel program that will provide families impacted by COVID-19 legal representation for eviction proceedings, the mayor said.
“As Oct. 17 approaches, the need is growing more urgent,” Walsh said in a press conference Friday outside City Hall. “The first thing that we have to do is make sure that tenants understand their rights, understand the protections that are in place and understand the resources that we have available here in the city.”
Under the proposed ordinance, property owners sending a “notice to quit” — the first step in the eviction process — would have to include information in multiple languages about city and state assistance and relief funds, legal counsel and mediation, and a list of tenants rights, Walsh said.
“This way, at the first step in the process of potential evictions, tenants will have access to resources that will help them stay in their homes and help their landlords receive rents,” Walsh said.
Walsh said the city’s office of housing stability is receiving calls “at four times the rate they were at this time last year” and that landlords are also “worried and saying that they would like to help their tenants find the resources to pay rent.”
At the same time, the state’s temporary ban on evictions and mortgages is set to run out on Oct. 17. Gov. Charlie Baker has so far been noncommittal on whether he’ll extend it for a second time.
Walsh worries that if it expires, there will be a “potential housing crisis” that could exacerbate public health issues after the city found itself in the state’s high-risk category for the first time this week.
“After Oct. 17, thousands of tenants could be receiving notices to quit, followed by eviction filings,” Walsh said, adding that people who are forced to leave their homes often end up in the city’s shelter system or bunking with family or friends, creating “conditions where the virus can much more easily spread.”
Walsh previously extended the moratorium on nonessential evictions for Boston Housing Authority tenants through the end of the year. He said Friday the city’s rental relief fund had helped roughly 900 families.