Suffolk Superior Court Hears Arguments on Foreclosures and Evictions Moratorium

The Suffolk Superior Court heard oral remarks yesterday relative to the Commonwealth’s moratorium on foreclosures and evictions during the COVID state of emergency. The question considered during the over two hours of oral arguments before the court is whether to issue a preliminary injunction blocking the state’s moratorium.

The case, Matorin v. Economic Office of Housing and Economic Development, results from a lawsuit filed by landlords across the state, arguing that the temporary ban violates their state constitutional rights, including property and access rights. The suit also alleges that plaintiffs have experienced financial losses from the inability to remove tenants who are not making their rent payments, and will continue to face significant economic harm. A number of housing justice groups have also weighed in on the issue through amicus briefs.

The moratorium was signed into law by Governor Charlie Baker on April 20, 2020 as Chapter 65 of the Acts of 2020. Originally set to expire in August, the moratorium was subsequently extended through October 17, 2020.

Additional cases against the moratorium remain pending on the federal level, which raise federal constitutional claims.

Suffolk Superior Court Judge Paul Wilson did not indicate how he plans to rule on the preliminary injunction, and stated that a decision will be filed as soon as possible.