Unable to agree on emergency eviction and foreclosure protections for people at risk during the coronavirus economic crisis, the House and Senate on Thursday formed a six-member conference to try to hammer out a consensus approach.

The two bills, H.4615 and S.2631, will be negotiated by Sens. Brendan Crighton, Michael Rodrigues and Bruce Tarr and by Reps. Kevin Honan, Aaron Michlewitz and Peter Durant. Conference committee meetings are open but negotiators frequently vote to close their talks to the media and the public.

The original bills share many common provisions. The Senate bill would ban evictions of apartment residents where the resident is not an immediate danger to other tenants or the public during the coronavirus emergency. It would prevent landlords from sending notices to quit to residential tenants during the emergency and would prevent the state Housing Court from scheduling any eviction proceedings. It would prohibit landlords from levying any late fees on apartment tenants or small business tenants who give notice and documentation they’ve been economically hurt by the pandemic within 30 days of missing a rent payment.

The bill would also prohibit a home from being foreclosed upon if that same notice and documentation is sent to the mortgage-holder within 120 days. It would also allow mortgage counseling to take place over the phone or via video conference.

The House bill would expand those protections to all small business tenants, as well, but would only allow video conference-based mortgage counseling.

Importantly, the Senate bill would also ban landlords and mortgage-holders from forwarding information about missed rent and mortgage payments to credit reporting agencies. It also sets the maximum term of a residential mortgage forbearance due to the coronavirus crisis at 180 days and requires that any payments during that forbearance period be tacked on to the end of the mortgage, not the end of the forbearance period.

Standing orders in the state’s trial court prevent hearings from taking place until mid-April, but new eviction cases can still be filed, and tenants’ rights advocates say they continue to get calls from tenants who have received execution notices for cases that advanced before the state of emergency.

While some jurisdictions have implemented local restrictions on levies of execution, advocates argue that statewide legislation must outright ban them until the state of emergency ends to prevent sheriffs and movers from removing tenants during a public health crisis.

Banker & Tradesman staff contributed to this report.

Legislators to Negotiate Eviction Moratorium Deal

by State House News Service time to read: 2 min