Landlords warn eviction ban bill would lead to foreclosures, slums

A bill that would halt evictions and freeze rents for a year after Gov. Charlie Baker lifts the coronavirus state of emergency has cleared its first major hurdle but faces staunch opposition from landlords who say it would lead to foreclosures, slums and worse.

“The further people get behind in their rent, the less likely they will ever be able to pay it. If we don’t deal with this problem and we wait another year, there’s a lot of money that will never get paid,” said Greg Vasil, CEO and president of the Greater Boston Real Estate Board. “It’s the property owners who lose. We’ll see foreclosures and properties will start to fall into disrepair.”

The eviction protection bill cleared the Joint Committee on Housing in a 14-3 party-line vote on Thursday. Proponents say the bill aims to keep tenants in their home after losing jobs due to the pandemic. It now heads to the House Ways and Means Committee.

Per the bill, small landlords — property owners with fewer than 15 rental units — would be able to pause their mortgages and put missed payments onto the end of the loan.

“Deferring payments isn’t going to be enough because those payments are going to come due sometime and the money isn’t going to be there,” Vasil said.

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