The REALTOR® Advocate: April/May

April 30, 2020

- By The MAR Legal Team

The second month of the current COVID-19 state of emergency brought several significant advocacy victories. We are proud of the role we played in the following (see below for more details):

  • Many Realtors® are eligible for unemployment benefits.
  • The new COVID-19 housing law includes significant protections for homeowners including mortgage forbearance and a foreclosure moratorium.
  • The Legislature passed the remote notarization bill to help protect Realtors® and their clients.

There’s always more to be done. Keep checking for all the latest information and stay tuned for future announcements on a remote Realtor® Day on Beacon Hill.

April Highlights

  • 4/3 – Applications for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Begin – initially, the program opens only to small businesses and sole proprietors, but independent contractors are able to apply starting 4/10. Read more about the PPP here.
  • 4/8 – Short-Term Rental Addendum – following the state mandated closure of STRs through May 4th, MAR releases this addendum that may be attached to lease agreements to clarify what should happen in the event that the rental cannot occur.
  • 4/20 – Unemployment for Independent Contractors – thanks to federal advocacy by NAR and state advocacy by MAR, the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program (PUA) begins accepting applications in Massachusetts. The PUA provides unemployment benefits to independent contractors and others who do not qualify for traditional unemployment benefits.
  • 4/20 – COVID-19 Housing Bill – the Governor signs H.4647 providing temporary protections for homeowners and renters to help mitigate impacts of COVID-19. The bill provides for moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures. It also gives homeowners up to 180 days of mortgage forbearance, a provision for which MAR advocated. Read more.
  • 4/27 – PPP Funded Again – after funds for the PPP are exhausted on 4/16, the program reopens with an additional $310 billion in funding. Read more.
  • 4/27 – Governor Baker signs Remote Notarization Bill – the bill, S.2645, is codified as Chapter 71 of the Acts of 2020. The bill authorizes notarizations to occur through the use of real time electronic video conferencing during the current state of emergency. MAR has advocated on behalf of this issue since the state of emergency began. Read more.

4/28 – Essential Business Closures Extend to 5/18 – The previous May 4 deadline for non-essential business and short-term rental closures is extended another two weeks. Read more.

A Look Ahead: May 2020

Obviously we’re in a unique time right now. All of our traditional priorities are on hold while we work with the Legislature and other government leaders on addressing COVID-19 and its impacts on real estate. We continue to work on housing related COVID-19 measures, including its long-term impacts. It remains to be seen whether “reopening” starting 5/18 is an attainable goal or really what “reopening” really means, but we are prepared to pivot to our priority issues if/when things return to relative normalcy.