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Real Estate as an Essential Business & Short-Term Rentals

On March 31, Governor Baker made two important announcements concerning real estate:

Real Estate as an Essential Business

The essential business list has been updated and now includes residential and commercial real estate. This means that in addition to continuing regular practice within current health and safety guidelines, Realtors® may open their brick and mortar offices on April 1 to workers, clients, and the general public. MAR urges members to exercise extreme caution in doing so and to continue practicing remotely as much as possible. Please note that just because you CAN open your business office on April 1, does not mean that you HAVE to open and you CAN remain practicing remotely.

The revised business list also permits the opening of brick-and-mortar offices for real estate support services including those providing title searches, notarization, and recording services.

Short-Term Rentals

The Department of Public Health issued guidance for short-term rentals, restricting the rental of properties for 31-days or less to COVID-19 support until May 4 (detailed below). The guidance expressly prohibits rentals of 31-days or less for leisure and vacation uses during that period, however, persons occupying short-term rentals as of March 31 may remain until the end of their originally scheduled term. Extensions are not permitted. The guidance does not impact leases longer than 31-days or stays after May 4, but be aware that this date can be extended. 

If you have a lease in place for a short-term rental (31-days or less) beginning between March 31 and May 4, you may not provide occupancy. Follow the terms of your lease and consult with your attorney as needed to best address this issue with your clients. If using the MAR short-term rental lease, you will need to refund prorated rent until you are able to deliver occupancy. If you used a hosting platform for a rental during this period, review their service terms as many have issued their own guidance on how they will assist clients for bookings impacted by the pandemic.

The guidance permits the lease of short-term rentals for only the following uses:

  1. Housing for health care workers, first responders and essential COVID-19 essential workers.

  2. Housing for out-of-state workers engaged in transportation of materials, logistics, and construction associated with the delivery of health-related services, such as development of COVID-19 alternative care sites.

  3. Housing for vulnerable populations.

  4. Housing for Massachusetts residents who are self-isolating or self-quarantining or the families or roommates of individuals who are self-isolating or self-quarantining for only as long as necessary to complete the period of self-isolation or self-quarantine.

  5. Housing for individuals receiving long-term, specialized medical care from a physician located in Massachusetts and for accompanying family members.

  6. Housing when required by extenuating circumstances such as fire or casualty to ensure the care and safety of Massachusetts residents and to accommodate other persons unable to return to their own homes due to flight cancellations, border closures, or other direct and material constraints on travel.

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