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Walsh, major Boston landlords agree to halt evictions during coronavirus

Construction on the Treadmark apartment building in Dorchester, built by Trinity Financial. Trinity is one of several major afforable housing operators that agreed Saturday to suspend most evictions in their buildings.
Construction on the Treadmark apartment building in Dorchester, built by Trinity Financial. Trinity is one of several major afforable housing operators that agreed Saturday to suspend most evictions in their buildings.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

Several major landlords and real estate groups in Boston have agreed to halt most evictions during the coronavirus emergency.

Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh, the Massachusetts Apartment Association, and a trade group for nonprofit affordable housing operators joined Saturday in urging apartment owners to impose a 90-day moratorium on evictions. Tenant activists have been pushing for the moratorium in recent days, and several of the city’s biggest landlords said they support the move.

“Housing stability is crucial at this time," Walsh said in a statement. “Through these measures to protect residents, we will continue our work to promote the well-being of every community in our city.”

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Earlier this week, Walsh urged Boston Housing Court to end “nonessential” evictions — generally, evictions that are not prompted by concerns for safety of other tenants — and said the Boston Housing Authority would suspend such evictions at its properties.

Now several other major affordable housing operators — Trinity Financial, WinnCompanies, The Community Builders, and the members of the Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations — have said they support the idea as well.

“As the largest operator of affordable housing in the state, we felt it was important to take a leadership role in response to this crisis,” said WinnCompanies CEO Gilbert Winn. “We have instructed management staff to temporarily suspend implementing evictions for residents in our management portfolio across the Commonwealth in cases where a resident is unable to pay rent due to a loss of income. This step will remain in place until the critical active phase of the crisis has passed.”

The move comes as local courts generally slow down non-emergency functions as a way to reduce in-person contact. On Friday, Timothy Sullivan, chief justice of Housing Court, ordered a delay of most non-emergency proceedings until April 22, as a way to help blunt the spread of coronavirus.

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The landlords’ eviction moratorium could extend even further. Greg Vasil, CEO of the Greater Boston Real Estate Board, said it would last up to 90 days, with reviews every 30 days. They’re urging smaller landlords as well to join in the effort.

“During this time, we know how vital it is to do our part to minimize the anxiety and health risk to our tenants,” Vasil said. "We understand the pressure residents are feeling during this crisis, and ensuring Bostonians have a safe, stable home is always our goal.”


Tim Logan can be reached at timothy.logan@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @bytimlogan.