Hey, there! Log in / Register

Judge tosses Boston's Covid-19-based moratorium on evictions

Real-estate attorney Richard Vetstein reports a Housing Court justice yesterday ruled the Boston Public Health Commission went too far in imposing a ban on evictions as a public-health measure.

In her ruling, Justice Irene Bagdoian wrote:

This court perceives great mischief in allowing a municipality or one of its agencies to exceed its power, even for compelling reasons. . . . In this court’s view, such expansion of power by a governmental agency, even for compelling reasons, should be unthinkable in a democratic system of governance.

The case was initially filed on behalf of a Mattapan landlord who began trying to evict tenants in 2019 over non-payment of rent; a constable who faced a loss of revenue because he could not serve eviction notices also joined the suit. Vetstein filed an amicus brief in the case on the side of the landlord.

The Globe reports Mayor Wu is looking at whether to appeal the ruling of the measure, enacted under then acting Mayor Kim Janey.

Neighborhoods: 
Free tagging: 

Ad:
Like the job UHub is doing? Consider a contribution. Thanks!

Comments

Homelessness is a policy choice.

up
Voting closed 24

For the provision in the 2008 bank bailouts which compelled them to house the homeless in exchange for the U.S. government saving their crap business.

up
Voting closed 25

Is the city even collecting data from landlords about evictions being blocked, or about nonpayment of rent?

up
Voting closed 20

First things first. The city has an inauguration to organize and new business cards to print.

up
Voting closed 26

In this court’s view, such expansion of power by a governmental agency, even for compelling reasons, should be unthinkable in a democratic system of governance.

If the reasons for an eviction ban - like public health during a pandemic - are not as important as limiting the government's emergency powers, which this judge thinks is necessary to safeguard democracy, then what the judge really means is that there are more compelling reasons to avoid an eviction ban than there are to allow one.

That still leaves open the possibility that if the pandemic were more virulent than it is now or if some other emergency arose, the reasons to allow the government to ban evictions might be compelling enough to justify whatever risk to democracy the judge currently thinks is more important, and by that logic, a ban should be allowed in that case.

But the judge couched their language in a funny way, saying that an eviction ban is too dangerous of an emergency power even if the reasons for having one are compelling, rather than simply saying that in their view, limiting government is more important in this case, which is a much shakier position to take. The judge pretends there's some sort of axiom to fall back on that makes "saving democracy" by limiting the government's power under any circumstance the right choice.

That's condescending and weaselly. The judge admits the arguments for allowing the ban are compelling while choosing not to be compelled. You can shut the door on anything with that "logic."

(I don't actually think an eviction ban is the best way to solve this problem - other countries distributed more funds to the vulnerable during the pandemic so that they could just pay their rent, thereby keeping the money flowing and avoiding situations like this one, where tenants are saved and landlords foot the entire bill.)

up
Voting closed 24

… but see it as even more ripe for exploitation by scum landlords and tenants already scared by them. The housing rental market is even less regulated than employment practices. No OSHA for tenants, for example. Less documentation of contracts.
Living in fear in your own home is not like living in fear of losing your job.

up
Voting closed 11

IMHO, the city spending money on legal representation, inspectional services, and just publicizing rights is better than an outright eviction ban.

And while I'm not going to win any friends here in saying this, I don't think eviction bans solve as many problems as they create. The same goes with rent control. Neither should be used.

If the city effectively eliminated zoning -- said you can build whatever the hell you want on any plot of land anywhere in the city provided it met structural building codes -- you'd see rapid development that would go a long way to "solving" the housing problem.

But the city would change dramatically and in ways both the YIMBY and NIMBY groups would not appreciate.

up
Voting closed 40

A pandemic doesn’t mean you can cause harm to one group just because the loudest mob of people decide they don’t like them, and see an opportunity.

We’re either a nation of laws, fairness, and predictability or we are not. The moratorium went on far too long and should have likely been means tested financial assistance instead.

On that note, deregulate housing already so we can have enough built as you said.

up
Voting closed 29

We’re either a nation of laws, fairness, and predictability

When were we this? Individually or as a group policy?

up
Voting closed 16

It seems someone's never heard of the State Sanitary Code.

up
Voting closed 12

My heart goes out to the landlords who have lost everything. How can someone leave in your house for years without paying a cent. Absolute disgrace.

up
Voting closed 27

…. if you can’t afford to lose.
Most landlords are still in their homes, doing just fine. Tenants are still responsible for rent unless a judge determines the landlord did not provide what they were contracted to do.

up
Voting closed 16

… head into winter during a cold spell.
Do a judge’s ideals of democracy matter much when you’re shivering on your way out of a shelter at daylight and have lost your home?

up
Voting closed 15

Good for you. Put your ideals out there an open your door to people who won't pay you for taking up your space.

up
Voting closed 42

That’s a no brainer, Broken Record.

up
Voting closed 14

The Return Of The Pee Wee Lee Comment.

Hope the stigmata heals up for you. Bleeding onto your mittens in this cold is so gauche.

up
Voting closed 24

.

up
Voting closed 10

At your hysteria.

up
Voting closed 16

I always wondered if you were a Bubble Guppy.

up
Voting closed 7

If the landlord isn't being compensated what choice do they have but the courts?. Owning property has costs which the rent covers.

up
Voting closed 38

And landlords are not entitled to a return on investment

up
Voting closed 18

No landlord could anticipate the risk of an 18+ month government imposed eviction moratorium during which tenants are allowed to stay and make zero rent payments.

That is outside of what any reasonable person would call an "inherent" risk.

up
Voting closed 43

…. a hold on rent for that long for whatever reason. Eviction in normal times can take even longer.
If you can’t afford the stakes, get out of the game.

up
Voting closed 16

Eviction in normal times can take even longer.

Do you have a citation to back that up? Evictions in Massachusetts take around 3 months. High side is 6 months. 18 months is virtually impossible, especially with a standard 12-month lease.

up
Voting closed 17

You’ve never been in housing court. Or if you were, you were on the losing end.

Many eviction order requests are never even granted.

up
Voting closed 8

If you can’t afford the stakes, get out of the game.

The stakes of a government suspending your ability to evict and not compensating you? That really isnt on property owners radar in my opinion.

up
Voting closed 17

The government doesn’t compensate anyone for an investment loss. Try returning a losing lottery ticket.
Welcome to capitalism.

up
Voting closed 10

What do you think the bank bailouts were for?

up
Voting closed 13

The government can't use emergency measures to circumvent the democratic process of lawmaking. That was the judge's ruling -- if they want to make an eviction ban, fine, but it needs to go through the established process of becoming a law, not a local executive ruling by decree.

And if you're going to claim that landlords should have no recourse for having their "investment" fail due to the whims of the Mayor, why not apply the same cold logic to renters: They shouldn't be purchasing a service they are unable to pay for.

up
Voting closed 13

What renter do you know gets property rented to them without a credit check and proof of income?

up
Voting closed 6

It’s payment for a service. Protection of renters rights come under consumer law. No equity involved.

Surely I didn’t need to explain that.

up
Voting closed 9

The City of Boston telling property owners they can't evict anyone isn't an Investment loss.

up
Voting closed 11

Only a sheriff can carry it out. It’s not a right.

up
Voting closed 9

Nobody's entitled to occupy someone else's property without paying rent.

up
Voting closed 9

edit n/t

up
Voting closed 6