Judge upholds eviction moratorium

August 26, 2020:- Today Suffolk Superior Court Judge Paul D. Wilson declined to issue a preliminary injunction against the Massachusetts eviction moratorium. Ruling that the moratorium does not amount to an uncompensated taking because “it does not deprive Plaintiffs of all economically viable use of their land” the judge also pointed out something that housing providers may find helpful:

[T]he economic effect on landlords is mitigated not only by their ability to sue non-paying tenants for breach of contract, but by the temporary nature of the moratorium.

For the purposes of seeking a remedy in the here and now, it is the first part of the sentence that merits attention. Picking up on a point that representatives of the tenants’ bar raised in oral argument, Judge Wilson statement suggests that even though they cannot start summary-process actions, landlords can still sue non-paying tenants for breach of contract.

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3 thoughts on “Judge upholds eviction moratorium

  1. The Judge’s short-sighted ruling ignores the simple and well-known truth: by the time landlords are allowed to commence any summary process, the tenants will in-effect be either gone; destitute or essentially have no way to compensate the landlord for their loss.

    It is like taking a farmer’s land and then after removing all the nutrients so that nothing can grow for a while, saying “OK- you can have your land back, but trash removal; refertilizing; replowing and hoping for a decent amount of sun and rain is your problem. ”

    Landlords who provide heat and hotwater and other utilities- not to mention paying taxes, insurance, buildingservices etc. should be able to tell all their creditors”Sorry – I cannot pay you!”
    What will the court do – penalize the landlord by telling the tenants they don’t have to pay?
    So a 1 to 2 year economic disaster for the farmer, leaving him without the means to reasonably restore his enterprise.

    Same for the landlords.

    It IS a taking, pure and simple, and Without compensation. And in fact, with real damages.

    And unconstitutional.

    After- and if- this fiasco is over, please file a huge class-action suit against the Commonwealth- seeking monetary damages for ALL economic hurt.

    Maybe by then we will have Supreme Court that cares about true law and order

    Gov Baker clearly does not.

  2. So we cannot issue a non-payment. Am I reading the supreme court ruling that we can go to court for breach of contract? Isn’t that the same thing? If not, our lease does state non-payment of rent is a breach of contract. Can we file with the courts now?

    1. I have such a breach-of-contract case under way right now. The tenant’s lawyer has filed a motion to dismiss because there is already a summary process action, but it’s suspended because of the moratorium. If there’s no underlying SP case, a breach of contract action won’t face this particular hurdle. Anyway, if we get over the hurdle (or don’t) I will write a quick post about it.

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