Somerville’s Housing Stability Notification Act Requires Landlords to Inform Tenants Facing Eviction of Their Rights and Available Resources

New Ordinance Went into Effect on December 26, 2019

The City of Somerville and the Office of Housing Stability (OHS) are pleased to announce the passage of the Housing Stability Notification Act (HSNA), which is designed to ensure that all tenants facing displacement know their rights and what resources are available to them.

The HSNA was passed by the City Council on September 26, 2019, and went into effect on December 26, 2019. Under the new requirements, landlords and foreclosing owners must provide a rights document and a resource document to tenants when serving an eviction notice. The two documents required to be served with eviction notices are available on the Office of Housing Stability’s website in English, Haitian Creole, Spanish, Portuguese, and Nepali.

The information provided to tenants and foreclosed homeowners includes an explanation of the legal protections afforded to them in eviction cases, such as the right to file a counterclaim and the right to appeal an eviction. The resource document provides contact information for organizations that assist with paying for back rent, moving expenses, and/or legal counsel. Assistance in accessing these resources is available through the Office of Housing Stability to any resident who is at risk of displacement, whether or not they have been served an eviction notice.

“The Housing Stability Notification Act will go a long way toward protecting the members of our community who are most vulnerable to displacement,” said Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone. “The new notification requirement is one of many tools in our toolkit for dealing with the housing crisis. There are legal protections and resources available for persons facing eviction, but tenants need to be aware of their rights to be able to take advantage of them. This new act seeks to ensure any resident facing eviction has access to every tool and support available to them.”

"Far too often, Somerville residents facing displacement are unaware of their legal rights and the local organizations that can help,” said City Councilor Ben Ewen-Campen, who co-sponsored the bill and chairs the Housing and Community Development Committee. “The Housing Stability Notification Act is a big step towards leveling the playing field and supporting vulnerable tenants during a difficult period. I'm grateful to see this policy go into effect, and I'm grateful to Councilors McLaughlin and Davis, and to the Somerville Office of Housing Stability, for helping get this important policy in place."

For more information about legal protections and resources available for tenants and foreclosed homeowners, landlords’ responsibilities under the HSNA, and enforcement of the HSNA through the City’s Inspectional Services Health Division, please contact the Office of Housing Stability at 617-625-6600 ext. 2581 or visit their website at somervillema.gov/OHS.