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Landlords File Legal Challenge To Eviction Moratorium

Massachusetts landlords have filed a legal challenge to the state’s moratorium on evictions during the coronavirus pandemic.

Landlords in a federal lawsuit filed this month argue the pause on evictions, which was extended by Gov. Charlie Baker this week though mid-October, is unconstitutional, Richard Vetstein, an attorney for property owners, told the Boston Herald on Wednesday.

The defendants are the state and the state Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development.

The moratorium violates the constitutional right to petition the judiciary; the right of free speech under the First Amendment; the right to just compensation for an unlawful taking of their property under the Fifth Amendment; and is an unconstitutional impairment of their leases, Vetstein said.

Vetstein represents a nurse who is owed $20,000 in back rent.

“She’s a blue-collar nurse, and is in serious financial difficulty because of this,” Vetstein said. “When a tenant can’t pay, that burden flows down to the landlords.”

The state said it does not comment on pending litigation.

Baker on Wednesday defended the decision to extend the moratorium, saying the issue was compounded by lack of access to the courts.

Under the moratorium, tenants are still obligated to pay rent.

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