Last Tuesday afternoon Mayor Martin Walsh was up at the State House to offer testimony in support of a House bill sponsored by Rep. Adrian Madaro that aims to protect senior renters.
House Bill H. 3373 will ensure protections for older adults in just-cause evictions.
“I was proud to testify alongside Mayor Marty Walsh Tuesday in support of H. 3373, a bill I filed to require just cause eviction for seniors living in multi-unit buildings,” said Madaro. “Elderly tenants are some of the most vulnerable members of our communities when it comes to displacement and eviction. We should be caring for our seniors, not putting them out on the streets. I’m proud to partner with Mayor Walsh to offer this bill and spark the discussion about keeping our longtime residents in their homes.”
The bill was part of Mayor Walsh’s legislative package, which focuses on expanding the work that Boston has done to address the region’s housing crisis by proposing new and existing tools to help existing tenants remain in their homes and create additional funding for affordable housing.
The bill, An Act Relative to the Just Cause Eviction of Elderly Lessees, would prohibit no-fault eviction of people over 75 years of age, limiting rent increases to five percent per year to prevent landlords from using large rent increases to get around just cause protections. Eviction would only be permitted for good cause such as, for example, failure to pay rent, damage to the property, use of the premises for illegal activities. Over the last six months, the housing team at the City’s Age Strong Commission has advocated for residents in 10 active court cases involving older Boston residents.
“H. 3373 would allow municipalities to protect our most vulnerable elderly residents from unfair evictions. Boston’s Age Strong Commission answers several calls each week from distraught seniors facing eviction-with an increasing number from seniors over the age of 75,” Walsh said at the State House hearing. “These seniors call us because they have nowhere else to turn, and nowhere else to live. In one case, a 77-year-old man who has lived in his home in the Fenway for over 40 years received notice to vacate, with no cause given. In another, an 88-year-old lives in a building that was sold, and the new landlord wants a big rent increase that he can’t possibly afford. This treatment is not acceptable for seniors who spent their lives here and helped build our communities.”
Walsh explained that he and Madaro’s legislation would provide tenants over the age of 75 with “just cause” protection.
“This term simply means that landlords must provide a legitimate reason for eviction, such as failure to pay rent, damage to the property, or illegal activity,” said Walsh. “Landlords could still raise rents each year by as much as five percent. And the bill exempts properties with five or fewer units-because we know that some small property owners are renting at below-market rents to long-term elderly tenants. We want to protect those arrangements and we want to protect our most vulnerable seniors.”