En español, traducido por El Planeta Media
Attorney General Maura Healey is warning Massachusetts landlords and their attorneys not to start evictions proceedings against tenants protected by the federal CARES Act, which limits evictions of people including residents of federally-subsidized housing until late July.
Healey's office said prosecutors know of some 50 evictions filed in Greater Boston against protected tenants.
“After this came to our attention, we started monitoring the Housing Court docket to see if other unlawful eviction notices have been filed, and we've already found several, and we're going to be taking action on those as well," Healey told WBUR.
Earlier this month, Healey issued a cease-and-desist letter to the law firm Turk & Quijano for moving to evict tenants protected under the coronavirus law.
The CARES Act covers only evictions for non-payment of rent at certain rental properties with federal assistance or financing, according to the Congressional Research Service.
While the state Housing Court is not executing non-emergency evictions at this time, the court continues to receive evictions filings. That practice would end if state lawmakers enact moratoria on evictions and foreclosures -- legislation now before a conference committee.
In response to the AG's order, Turk & Quijano claimed the evictions in question began before the CARES Act went into effect, though the court filings were made after. The firm said it dismissed cases covered by the law "in an abundance of caution" before receiving the order, and notified tenants of the dismissal.
Healey said her office is also monitoring "self-help evictions," meaning landlords who take matters into their own hands by locking tenants out, shutting off utilities, or other illegal practices.
"We called the Constables Association and said, 'no evictions'," Healey said. "We talked with the police chiefs, who [said] that if they see somebody being evicted ... 'we'll shut that down.'
"This is about keeping people safe."
The AG's office was tipped off by the legal aid group De Novo in Cambridge. The group's Courtney Libon said she realized Turk & Quijano was filing possibly prohibited evictions because she recognized the housing developments involved had federal funding.