Foreclosure

Homeowners

If you are a homeowner struggling to pay your mortgage, or if your lender wants to foreclose on your property, call the City of Boston’s Home Center (BHC) at 617-635-HOME (4663). They can help you to understand your options, connect you with resources and help you work toward a solution to prevent foreclosure.

If you have tenants living in your building, it is important to communicate with them right away. Landlords and tenants will benefit from calling the City of Boston's Rental Housing Center (BRHC) at 617-635-RENT (4200) to find out what rights tenants have during the foreclosure process.

Renters

If you are a tenant in a building that has been foreclosed on, you have many rights under both federal and state law. To learn more, see “Guide for Tenants in Foreclosed Buildings” below. You may also call the BRHC at 617-635-4200 for more information. Knowing your rights early will assist you in making good decisions during the foreclosure process.

Foreclosure Accountability Ordinance

On March 3, 2008, a Boston Ordinance was approved to regulate the maintenance of abandoned and foreclosing residential properties.50 This Ordinance requires the following:

  • All owners of abandoned and/or foreclosing residential properties must register them with Boston’s Inspectional Services Department (ISD) on forms they provide, pay a registration fee, and provide a telephone number and mailing address (not a post-office box) for the individual owner or agent. If the property is abandoned, the registration must state the name and address of the person or company responsible for its security and maintenance. The registration must be received within seven days of abandonment or initiation of the foreclosure process.

  • Such properties must be maintained in accordance with all applicable codes, and the local owners or property managers must inspect them monthly.

  • A sign with the name and a 24-hour contact phone number of the local person or property management company responsible for the maintenance must be posted on the front of the property so that it is clearly visible from the street.

  • ISD shall inspect these properties and issue citations for any violations.

  • Failure to comply with the ordinance will result in fines.

For more information, call ISD at 617-635-5300.

GUIDE FOR TENANTS IN FORECLOSED BUILDINGS

  • When your landlord loses his or her building to foreclosure, this does not mean that you have to move out.

  • The Post-Foreclosure Just Cause Eviction Law 51 which went into effect in Massachusetts on August 7th, 2010, allows most tenants in foreclosed properties who pay rent and comply with their tenancy obligations to remain in their homes until there is just cause to evict them, or the property is being sold.

  • The law requires foreclosing owner(s) to post in a prominent location within 30 days of foreclosure a written notice with contact information (name, address, telephone number) of the foreclosing owner or representative, the person responsible for management and maintenance, and an address where the rent should be sent.

  • Only bona fide tenants are protected under this law. To qualify as bona fide, tenants must have moved in before the foreclosure, must have entered into a tenancy through an “arm’s length” transaction with the former owner, and can’t be the parent, child or spouse of the former owner. Tenants with rental subsidies such as Section 8 generally will qualify as bona fide. A written lease agreement with the former owner/landlord is not necessary.

  • A foreclosing owner may evict a bona fide tenant for six “just cause” reasons, which include:
    1. non-payment of rent,
    2. violation of an obligation of the tenancy,
    3. refusal to renew or extend lease,
    4. creating a nuisance or damage,
    5. illegal activity in the unit,
    6. refusing to allow access to inspect, repair or show the unit
    7. a binding Purchase and Sale Agreement to sell the unit/building to a third party.

  • These protections apply only when the foreclosing owner of the property is an entity such as a bank (rather than an individual or investor), which foreclosed, or held the mortgage before foreclosure, or if an entity in the mortgage business owns the property within 3 years of the foreclosure.

  • If the property is purchased at a foreclosure sale by a private person or investor rather than an entity such as a bank, the tenants in the property are not protected by the state law. However, most bona fide tenants are still protected under the “Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act of 2009 “52 federal law.

  • The “Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act of 2009” requires that the new owner give any bona fide tenant at least 90 days’ notice or until the end of their lease terms before starting the eviction process in court.

  • All new owners who buy at foreclosure sale must accept Section 8 and MRVP (state rental subsidy) leases.

  • All tenants in Massachusetts, regardless of their foreclosure rights, may only be evicted by a judge, and have the right to stay in their units until a judge orders them to move, to raise defenses and counterclaims in court against a landlord in an eviction action, and to try to get the judge to grant them extra time if they do have to move.

51. G. L.c. 186A
52. 12 U.S.C. § 5220