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Lawsuit seeks to overturn Boston’s eviction ban

The plaintiffs argue that the city’s open-ended moratorium is not directly connected to COVID-19.

A rally outside Boston Housing Court in June called for Congress to extend federal eviction protections. Congress did not act, ultimately leading Acting Mayor Kim Janey to issue a moratorium for Boston.Elise Amendola/Associated Press

A Boston landlord and a constable have filed suit in Housing Court seeking to overturn the citywide eviction ban that Acting Mayor Kim Janey put in place in August.

Calling the ban — which Janey enacted in the heat of the five-way preliminary mayoral race — “the unfortunate result of political gamesmanship,” the suit asks a judge to overturn it and block its enforcement immediately. The open-ended nature of the moratorium, and its lack of any direct connection to COVID-19, are especially problematic, said Mitch Matorin, one of two attorneys in the case.

“This is just plainly unauthorized and illegal and it needs to be struck down,” Matorin said. “There is an end to the point where you can come up with any rationalization for shifting the burden onto landlords. We have reached it.”


Matorin and Jordana Greenman filed the suit this week on behalf of Janet Avila, a Mattapan woman who had filed to evict a tenant in 2019. That eviction suit was blocked by state and then federal bans that were in place through much of the pandemic. In August, however, a court issued a final ruling in the case, allowing Avila to evict the tenant. It also issued a judgment in favor of her for more than $29,000. That same day, Janey announced the moratorium. The other plaintiff is David Boudreau, a constable who the city has blocked from executing evictions. The suit says that action has cost him $10,000 a month in income, and that Boudreau now faces potential foreclosure of his own home.

Eviction bans have faced mounting legal pressure as the pandemic has dragged on.

Governor Charlie Baker let a strict state moratorium expire last fall amid a lawsuit in federal court in Boston — Matorin and Greenman were also involved in that case — and in August the US Supreme Court overturned a federal ban President Biden put in place after efforts to extend one through legislation failed in Congress. That ruling prompted some local officials around the country, including Janey, to enact bans of their own.


The mayor’s office had no immediate comment on the lawsuit Thursday afternoon.

Tim Logan can be reached at Follow him @bytimlogan.