Notices to Quit for Non-Payment of Rent: Proceed with “Care”
Notices to quit for non-payment of rent are required for initiating an eviction against a delinquent tenant. A landlord must generally provide a fourteen-day notice to quit for such an eviction.
However, the recent federal “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act” (CARES Act) throws a wrinkle into this process. As such, landlords need to proceed with “care” with serving a notice for non-payment of rent (pun intended!).
Overview of Massachusetts Evictions During Coronavirus
Both federal and state law are presently prohibiting most residential evictions in Massachusetts. The CARES Act placed an initial moratorium on a large majority of eviction cases. The subsequent state eviction moratorium has stopped all non-essential evictions across the state.
When the moratorium ends, it is expected that evictions will resume (albeit under different circumstances and conditions). However, a requirement of the CARES Act will remain after the moratorium ends for notices to quit for non-payment of rent.
Notices to Quit for Non-Payment of Rent: Additional Time Required in Certain Cases
While notices to quit for non-payment of rent generally require fourteen days, the CARES Act now requires that such notices, when sent after the end of the moratorium, provide the tenant with thirty days notice.
This only applies to a specific category of properties, referred to as a “covered dwelling unit” under the CARES Act. These are generally properties that participate in a federal program or have a federally backed mortgage.
While this category applies to a wide array of tenant properties, the following landlords, in my opinion, are the most common ones who will fall under this law: those who participate in the Section 8 housing program, and those with a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac mortgage.
For such rental properties, a thirty day notice (and not fourteen) will be required.
When the courts reopen, there will be a flood of non-payment eviction cases. I’m predicting that many tenants will raise defenses related to whether the landlord served them with the proper notice to quit.
With this in mind, landlords need to be extra careful when preparing a notice to quit. If there is any chance that their rental property is covered under the CARES Act, the landlord should go with a thirty-day notice for non-payment of rent evictions.
If you need assistance with a landlord-tenant matter, contact me for a consultation.