BOSTON — A Massachusetts Housing Court judge overturned Boston’s eviction moratorium, saying the city’s public health commission had overstepped its emergency powers.
Judge Irene Bagdoian wrote in her decision Monday that evictions are a matter of state law, not local authority, The Boston Globe reported.
“This court perceives great mischief in allowing a municipality or one of its agencies to exceed its power, even for compelling reasons,” she wrote, noting that a town could use a similar public health rationale to circumvent affordable housing laws.
She added that this type of expansion of power “should be unthinkable in a democratic system of governance.”
The moratorium that blocked enforcement of court-approved evictions was put in place on Aug. 31 by the administration of then-acting Mayor Kim Janey, who said it was to protect residents still struggling to pay rent because of the coronavirus pandemic.
A city landlord and a constable, who serves judicial processes, challenged it in court.
Attorneys Jordana Roubicek Greenman and Mitchell Matorin, who filed the lawsuit, said that Boston “lacked the authority to override state law and render the court’s own judgments unenforceable.”
Mayor Michelle Wu Monday said she was “deeply concerned” about the impact of the decision. She said the city’s law department is reviewing it closely and will seek a stay to keep the eviction moratorium in place.
The U.S. Supreme Court in August struck down the Centers for Disease Control’s nationwide eviction moratorium.