Tuesday, May 12, 2020

What to Know About Renting in Boston Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic

The Boston area was already a tough and competitive rental market to navigate, now the Coronavirus has added another layer of difficulty. Firstly, amidst the Coronavirus pandemic, competition and prices have remained steady for Boston’s real estate market. Below are some answers to common questions Boston renters have been asking during this time. 

What happens if I have an issue with my apartment, such as something breaking or I need an urgent repair?

Luckily, Boston Governor Charlie Baker listed property managers as essential workers who are allowed to conduct business with safety precautions during the Coronavirus pandemic.  Workers such as plumbers, electricians, exterminators, inspectors, and other service providers who provide services that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences, construction sites and projects, and needed facilities are considered essential workers. 

Therefore, if you have a problem with your apartment you can contact your landlord about an urgent repair or issue such as infestation or broken heat. In fact, it’s your right under state law to expect such fixes. Thus, you should feel free and comfortable to reach out to your property’s owner about any necessary repairs.

I can’t make rent May 1. Will I be evicted?

No. As of April 20, there is a moratorium in place in Massachusetts which pauses all non-emergency eviction proceedings. The moratorium lasts 120 days from April 20 or 45 days from the lifting of Gov. Charlie Baker’s emergency declaration due to the pandemic, whichever comes first.

Furthermore, the national government introduced the $2 trillion coronavirus rescue package titled the CARES Act. The CARES Act includes a 120-day moratorium on most evictions at properties that receive federal subsidies or that federal entities insure. The moratorium protects these tenants from new eviction actions for nonpayment of rent and from fees related to such nonpayment.

However, this doesn’t protect against eviction proceedings in progress before President Donald Trump signed the CARES Act on March 27. 

Can my landlord still raise the rent? 

Yes. That is the way the rental market works, amidst a health pandemic or not.  Massachusetts landlords, however, must provide written notices of any rent increase ahead of a lease ending, and tenants must have time to consider and to sign into agreement any increase. The rent cannot go up during a lease, either. 

Furthermore, tenants do not have a right to a lease renewal or other extension, amidst the coronavirus or not. Landlords hold the right to raise rent for pretty much any reason at the end of a lease (except in retaliation for taking action because of a lack of repairs or other rights violations). Additionally, there is no rent control in Massachusetts (as of right now).

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