Two weeks after a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures expired, court data shows filings are off to a slow start as some large landlords commit to pressing pause on evictions, but housing advocates warn the worst is yet to come.
“We’re bracing still for the actual flood of court filings, but we have seen a big uptick in the number of tenants getting notices to quit,” said Isaac Simon Hodes of Lynn United for Change, a nonprofit tenant advocacy organization.
Notices to quit are the first step in the eviction process that trigger a series of rolling deadlines and eventually lead to a court filing — typically 14 days after a landlord services a tenant. In Hampden County, which includes Springfield, sheriffs said more than 120 were served in the two days after the moratorium lifted.
So far, state housing courts have recorded 68 new eviction cases — called summary processes — since the moratorium lifted on Oct. 17. A recent Metropolitan Area Planning Council Study estimates as many as 80,000 renter and homeowner households in Massachusetts face an imminent risk of eviction or foreclosure.
Lewis Finfer, co-director of the Massachusetts Communities Action Network, said it’s only a matter of time before those cases see their day in court.
“It’s like bleeding to death rather than the catastrophe in one day or one week,” Finfer said.
When Gov. Charlie Baker allowed the moratorium to expire, he unveiled a $171 million plan that allocates more funding for rental assistance and court programs to divert evictions.
In the meantime, several large property owners are taking measures into their own hands.
In a Monday agreement, 10 property management companies that collectively own thousands of apartment units in Massachusetts and more than 300,000 nationally agreed to pause evictions for failure to pay rent until 2021 and to work with tenants who are struggling amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Greater Boston Real Estate Board.
The companies include: Chestnut Hill Realty, Avalon Communities Inc., National Development, Windsor Property Management, Winn Residential, Equity Management Realty, Wingate Management, Schochet Companies, Peabody Properties Inc., and Corcoran Management Co.