BOSTON (WWLP) – According to lawmakers, evictions are up in the state, and with housing prices being as high as they are, residents have few options.

Last week, the Senate passed eviction protections in their budget aimed at helping both tenants and landlords. The Senate passed its FY24 budget last week, and within it was a few policy changes, one amendment seeks to make a pandemic-era policy permanent.

Chapter 257 is an eviction prevention program that requires an eviction to be put on hold if the tenant has an application for rental assistance.

Evictions that could be paused are only evictions for nonpayment of rent. Courts would be involved, they would have to make the state aware of any suspended eviction case so pending applications for rental assistance could be expedited.

Senator John Velis, who sits on the Housing Committee, believes this helps tenants and also strikes a balance with landlords, who would then be able to get their rent paid sooner. “Ultimately, at the end of the day, we want to keep people in their homes, whenever they be, whether it be homes, apartments, or anywhere else, but we also need to be mindful of the fact that there’s small landlords that again, this is a critical part of their livelihoods, so ensuring they get the money.”

Now, judges would have to determine that the application for rental assistance was made “in good faith.” If the tenant eventually receives the assistance and rent is paid in full, the courts would then dismiss the eviction claim and tenants could later petition to seal the court record.

The House passed a similar amendment in their budget, but House and Senate negotiators will have to work out the differences before sending a final budget to Governor Healey.

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Ellen Fleming is a reporter at the Boston State House who has been a part of the 22News team since 2022. Follow Ellen on X @EllenFlem and view her bio to see more of her work.