Breaking: Boston City Council Passes Just Cause Eviction Petition

by Rich Vetstein on October 5, 2017 · 0 comments

in Housing Court, Landlord Tenant Law, Rental Housing

Proposal Heads To State House Next

Once thought to be dead, the Boston City Council yesterday approved the first ever “just cause” eviction proposal known as the Jim Brooks Community Stabilization Act. The Act, which opponents dubbed a return to rent control, prohibits virtually all no-fault evictions in favor of evictions only for certain enumerated “just cause” grounds. The law also requires landlords to file a notice to quit/termination with the newly formed Office of Housing Stability prior to starting an eviction. In a state which is already extremely pro-tenant, this new law will make evicting tenants even more difficult and cost prohibitive in the City of Boston , and will surely affect owners’ rights to raise rents and sell rental property in the city. The vote was 10-3 in favor of the Act, with City Councilors Bill Linehan, Sal LaMattina, and Timothy McCarthy voted no.

“Just Cause” Grounds for Eviction

The Act (embedded below) provides that landlords may only evict tenants for nine (9) specified reasons:

  • Non-payment of rent.
  • Violations of lease provisions
  • Nuisance/damage to unit
  • Illegal activity such as drug use
  • Refusal to agree to lease extension or renewal
  • Failure to provide access.
  • Subtenant not approved by landlord
  • Landlord requires premises for housing for family member
  • Post-foreclosure and occupant refuses to pay fair market rent

What’s Next?

It’s not all bad news for property owners, however. The bill faces more hurdles before becoming law. It is a Home Rule Petition, so it must be approved by the entire State Legislature before it becomes law. That may prove to be quite difficult for proponents. The bill may also face court challenges because, as opponents argue, it’s an unlawful return to rent control, which was outlawed in the 1980’s, and fundamentally alters existing private contracts and the very nature of a tenancy at will relationship.

The Act is also somewhat of a compromise between property owners and tenant groups. Tenants wanted to require landlords to submit to mediation for rent hikes of more than 5%, but were not able to get support for it among city council members. Tenant groups also pushed for prohibitions on evicting elderly or disabled tenants and long term renters with children in the school system. The Mayor rejected those ideas as well.

Additionally, small landlords owning 6 or fewer units are exempt from coverage as are owner-occupants of multi-family dwellings and Section 8/federally subsidized housing providers.

Boston Just Cause Eviction Home Rule Petition by Richard Vetstein on Scribd

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