Letter from the Executive Director for February 2024: Winter Grind

Looking back on January 2024 shows very clearly the grind that New England winter can be. We had snow and ice, then flood-inducing rain, then more ice. The buffeting repeated across our policy and other work.

Several small landlords have been profiled recently for unjust treatment by the courts. One landlord in Boston told WHDH 7 News her tenant threated to "cave my head in." It took a year to get that tenant out. Another landlord in Rockland spent 20 months in a similar situation (this story was not yet published at time of writing). Lawyers learn in law school that "justice delayed is justice denied." But in practice, they seem powerless to change the process to better separate right from wrong.

A similar dysfunction is seen in our public records case. We first asked to see RAFT timeout data in 2021. Now, more than two years later, we're asking the Supreme Judicial Court to fix mistakes by no less than two courts and four judges. They have so far dismissed our case for "failure to state a claim." But we submitted dozens of claims and four affidavits in support. It's a manifest injustice, antithetical to the functioning of a democracy, and harmful to renters and landlords both. State processes should be subjected to public oversight. Our denial is also unlawful: the public records law exempts addresses only a few times, none applicable to our case. For all else, the courts must conduct a balancing test. We gave two media interviews about this. None have been published yet.

Last month we also submitted a public records request to the Metropolitan Area Planning Council. We asked to see the emails to and from collaborators on the "Homes for Profit" study. This piece of pseudoscience resulted in people believing that all LLCs are harmful investors. Boston Globe coverage of it was held up at the Worcester City Council meeting at which the ADU ordinance was badly diluted. I asked three people at MAPC about it. One ignored me, one disagreed it was an issue, and the third was glad. Is this what we pay our planners to do, to sustain the status quo with falsehoods? More injustice, more time, more grinding.

The one warm, sheltered place in public policy this winter has been the long-named Department of Energy Resources Energy Efficiency Advisory Council Equity Working Group. This group designs Mass Save for rental housing. They're glad to have landlords participating and asking the tough questions. There's a general recognition that we're all equally in trouble because of climate change. Recent floods in Salisbury prove the point: beach homes that stood for a century were taken down by an unusually heavy rainstorm at high tide. That is not normal. The pace of rainfall flooding (Western Mass, Montpelier, Maine) is already devaluing properties.

Remember that we launched RentControlHistory.com. This took the better part of the previous three months of writing and will be a permanent opposition site. This, combined with team illness and absence, is why this newsletter edition is light on content.

Thank you for supporting our mission to create better rental housing. Please join as a member, encourage others to join, become a property rights supporter or increase your level of support. We aim to hire both a full-time educator and policy advocate.


Douglas Quattrochi

Executive Director

MassLandlords, Inc.



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