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Published on June 12, 2024
Boston City Council Backs Legislation to Seal Eviction Records, Aiming to Safeguard Tenant Housing OpportunitiesSource: Google Street View

In a move aimed at supporting housing stability for tenants, the Boston City Council has backed legislation designed to help renters avoid the stigma of an eviction record that can haunt them in their search for stable housing. This comes at a time when tenants make up the majority of Boston residents and nearly half of all Massachusetts residents, as reported by the City of Boston.

The proposed law, H.4356 or the "Act Promoting Housing Opportunity and Mobility through Eviction Sealing," responds to the crisis of over one million evictions filed in the state over the past quarter-century. Currently, these records are easily available to future landlords and can seriously impact a person's ability to find safe and stable housing. Given that a significant portion of the Boston populace and Massachusetts residents consist of renters, the impact of this bill could be quite significant, according to the City of Boston.

Eviction records chronicle any legal disputes involving tenants and landlords, whether the tenant was sued or initiated the suit themselves. By currently leaving an indelible mark on their future renting capabilities, the bill aims to offer a reprieve from their past entanglements, allowing a fresh start and not altering any legal rights of landlords in the process, as outlined in the City of Boston.

Bill H.4356 plans to construct avenues for tenants to seal eviction cases from their records, particularly in instances where a case is dismissed, resolved in favor of the tenant, or in situations categorized as no-fault evictions. With these provisions for automatic sealing, the Council intends to strike a balance between protecting tenants’ reputations and maintaining landlords' rights, all the while helping renters escape the shadow of past disputes and secure housing without the burden of their eviction history.