Judge strikes down Boston’s eviction moratorium

News Renting Boston
Judge Irene Bagdoian said the city can’t exceed its power, "even for compelling reasons." Adobe Stock

A state housing court judge on Monday overturned the citywide eviction moratorium then-Acting Mayor Kim Janey declared in Boston earlier this year.

In response to a lawsuit filed by a Boston landlord and a constable, Judge Irene Bagdoian said the city had overstepped its public health emergency powers when the Janey administration in late August announced a blanket ban on enforcing evictions due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Janey’s move — which blocked enforcement of court-approved evictions in Boston — came in the wake of a Supreme Court ruling overturning a similar federal ban, and in the heat of this fall’s mayoral race when Janey’s rivals were urging her to do more to protect vulnerable tenants. Since the start of the pandemic, housing advocates have argued that eviction bans protect public health by keeping people in their homes and out of crowded apartments where disease can more easily spread.

But it drew immediate legal fire from critics, who say such bans effectively force landlords to house people without compensation and stretch public health powers too far. In this case, Bagdoian agreed, noting that in Massachusetts, evictions are a matter of state law, not local authority.

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