HOUSING COURT EMERGENCY ORDERS

Housing Court Standing Order 2-20: Temporary modifications to court operations arising from the coronavirus (COVID 19) outbreak

This addresses concerns about pending or active eviction matters filed before the pandemic –

Effective immediately, all Housing Court divisions shall remain open during regular business hours, subject to the below modifications. The First Justice and Clerk-Magistrate of each division shall collectively exercise their discretion in the scheduling of matters in satellite sessions, which may include rescheduling matters to be heard at the division’s main location. This Order is temporary and is subject to be modified or rescinded at any time, as necessary to address the fluctuating circumstances arising from the coronavirus pandemic.

Effective immediately, all non-emergency court events, including but not limited to, summary process cases, small claims matters, civil matters, ticket appeals, supplementary process proceedings, probable cause hearings, and criminal matters, shall be scheduled for, or continued to, a date no earlier than April 21, 2020.

Housing Court Standing Order 3-20: Supplement to Housing Court Standing Order 2-20 Relating to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Outbreak

This concerns what the court considers an emergency. Note that initiating evictions is not an emergency. BUT it also lists things that do constitute emergencies residents may be experiencing and for which the court may be able to provide help:

All Housing Court divisions shall remain open during regular business hours and, at least until April 6, 2020, shall hear only emergency matters. Where appropriate, such matters shall be heard telephonically or through video conferencing. “Emergency matters” in the Housing Court include the following circumstances: applications for injunctive relief, temporary restraining orders where a complaint involves a lockout, condemnation, no heat, no water, and/or no utilities; conduct and or conditions endangering the health safety and welfare of residential occupants and others; stay of levy on an execution; or where access is required to address an emergency (e.g., burst water pipe, gas fumes, etc.). Where appropriate, the Clerk-Magistrate of each division, in consultation with the respective First Justice, shall otherwise have the discretion to determine whether a matter is an “emergency” and merits immediate hearing. Where possible, all attorneys and litigants shall provide the Clerk’s Office with their respective contact information, including an e-mail address and telephone number.

AGO EMERGENCY REGULATIONS:

AG’s Office Issues Emergency Regulation to Protect Consumers from Harmful Debt Collection Practices During Covid-19 Emergency.
This protects consumers from harmful debt collection practices and applies to all creditors and prohibits them from deceptive practices in pursuing the payment of a debt during the COVID-19 emergency, including:

  • filing any new collection lawsuit;
  • garnishing wages, earnings, properties or funds;
  • repossessing vehicles;
  • applying for or serving a capias warrant;
  • visiting or threatening to visit the household of a debtor;
  • visiting or threatening to visit the place of employment of a debtor;
  • confronting or communicating in person with a debtor regarding the collection of a debt in any public place.
  • The AG’s emergency debt collection regulation also prohibits debt collection agencies and debt buyers from making unsolicited debt collection telephone calls to Massachusetts consumers for the next 90 days, unless the state of emergency ends before that time.

Amendment to 940 CMR 3.18.pdf | Mass.gov – Expands the definition of price gouging to include of goods and services necessary for public health and safety during a declared statewide or national emergency.

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