Letter from the Executive Director for June 2023: Monthly Pricing?

In May, our paid team and volunteer Board of Directors discussed allowing members to join and pay dues on a monthly basis. We also got a new Secretary of Housing and Livable Communities, testified at an eviction sealing hearing and asked the Department of Public Health to backtrack on part of the sanitary code.

The new state sanitary code took effect May 12. We have covered this by video business update, three events, and an article. In the three years leading up to this change, the Community Sanitation Division of the Department of Public Health never once put the Notice of Occupant’s Rights and Obligations to public comment. If they had, we would have objected. This is discussed in this edition and may be the start of another lawsuit.

Also in this edition, we discuss the eviction sealing hearing that happened on May 9. The Greater Boston Real Estate Board testified in favor of eviction sealing, on the opposite side of the issue as us.

The Governor announced former Worcester City Manager Ed Augustus as the next Secretary of Housing and Livable Communities. This role is newly created for Massachusetts, as the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development has now been split in two. Renter advocates smiled publicly but some were surprised at the choice. Augustus has had little presence in renter advocacy or housing circles.

Turning our attention to ourselves, a proposal has been made to help members better manage cash flow: monthly dues. This would not be annual dues paid in monthly installments, like a legally binding lease. This would be something like, “Pay $40, be a member for one month.” Stop paying and membership would promptly lapse with no further obligation. The monthly price would probably be higher than the annual dues divided by 12. This seems to be standard practice for other membership websites.

The advantage of this plan might be to encourage more members to join and renew. Many of us are cashflow limited and would like to pay as rents come in.

One disadvantage is that a less scrupulous landlord could enroll for a month, download all our rental forms and quit. They would lose access to Home Depot savings, message boards and certification. But we know our up-to-date forms are a main attraction, so this would be an area to watch.

We can test whether we grow or lose out with a monthly offering. Many of us are happy with annual dues and would be free to stick with annual. Our average annual member stays with us a long time. But if we are to grow to reach as many landlords as possible, we may need to offer monthly dues.

Would you have concerns with switching to monthly pricing? Would you be more likely to join as a member? Or to renew? We welcome comments at hello@masslandlords.net. It would take a while to develop full processes for monthly dues, so there is plenty of time to guide our decision. If you would like to talk about it over Zoom, save the date for Friday, July 28, at 12p.m., the first of several member and public input opportunities.

MassLandlords’ work benefits owners, managers and service providers of rental housing across the industry. And there is so much work to do! Please join as a member, become a property rights supporter or increase your level of support.

Sincerely,

Douglas Quattrochi

Executive Director

MassLandlords, Inc.

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