Mayor Walsh files Jim Brooks community stabilization act
December 5, 2016
BOSTON - Mayor Martin J. Walsh today sent the Jim Brooks Stabilization Act, a proposed home rule petition, to the City Council for its consideration. Once approved by the City Council and enacted by the State legislature, this law would help protect residential tenants and former homeowners living in their homes post-foreclosure against arbitrary, unreasonable, discriminatory, or retaliatory evictions, and help ensure that tenants and former homeowners are aware of their rights under state law.
"This legislation is just one piece of our larger, city-wide agenda to prevent displacement," Mayor Walsh said. "It's critical that we strike a good balance between protecting tenants' rights and supporting them during challenging times, and recognizing the important role landlords play in the development and growth of our city."
The text of the petition was the result of many months of conversations between the City, the advocacy community, and local property owners. The petition is expected to be refined further before submission to the state legislature.
The petition codifies conditions under which landlords can evict a tenant or a former homeowner living in their foreclosed unit. These conditions include:
- Failing to pay rent
- Violating the lease terms
- Creating a nuisance or damaging the property
- Using the unit for illegal purposes
- Refusing to execute an extension/renewal of the current lease
- Refusing the landlord access to make repairs
- Having an unapproved subtenant
- If the landlord wants to take possession of the unit for his or her own use or for the use or occupancy of his or her immediate family member(s) to occupy.
- Former owner still living in a foreclosed home but refuses to pay reasonable rent
In addition, the petition also creates requirements for landlords to notify the City in case of eviction. Landlords will be required to provide the City of Boston's Office of Housing Stability with a copy of any notice to quit, lease non-renewal letter, or notice of fixed term lease expiration within two days of serving the notice on the tenant or former homeowner.
In the event of an eviction, tenants have many rights they can execute. To ensure that tenants know these rights, once notified of the potential eviction, the Office of Housing Stability will notify tenants and former landlords of their rights by mail. Failure to provide the City with notice would void a landlord's right to proceed with the eviction.
It's critical that we strike a good balance between protecting tenants' rights and supporting them during challenging times, and recognizing the important role landlords play in the development and growth of our city
There are several exemptions built into the proposed petition. For example, any units owned by a small landlord who is a Massachusetts resident owning fewer than seven rental units are exempt, as is temporary or transitional housing such as substance use treatment and recovery programs and transitional housing for individuals who are homeless.
Public housing units already subject to eviction restrictions under state and federal law are exempt, as are hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, and health facilities along with units held in a trust on behalf of a developmentally disabled individual, or managed or owned by colleges or universities for housing undergraduate students.
The petition is named for Jim Brooks, a Roxbury community activist who died in April of this year.
Click here to read the Jim Brooks Community Stabilization Act.