Bills We Filed for the 193rd Session


2023-02-09 Business Update - Bills we filed for the 193rd session

Resource Person:

Douglas Quattrochi - Doug

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Hi! My name is Doug Quattrochi. I’m the executive director of MassLandlords. Today’s business update is about bills we filed for this legislative session. Massachusetts operates on a two-year legislative session. Every bill that could possibly pass into law has to have been filed in January unless it’s an emergency bill, and we’re very pleased to report we’ve actually got five bills filed, all of interest, this session. The first, lead, we’ll talk about that. Second, LLCs, not needing an attorney in court. Third, forfeiture reform. Fourth, climate resilient capital task force. Then, residential assistance for families in transition. That’s the order at least on our website.

Actually, first, we’ll start with lead. We have actually managed to file our lead bill in the House and the Senate. This would increase the Schedule LP Deleading Credit from $1,500 per unit to $15,000 per unit. We’ve done a previous business update on this. It’s a really impactful bill, and we’ve got a lot of cosponsors in the House and Senate already. If you’re interested in helping us to increase the deleading credit, particularly if you’ve already de-leaded your units to help others get this done, ask your senator to cosponsor Senate Docket 862, or ask your representative to cosponsor House Docket 2630. This bill has a real shot at passing into law this session, and it’s going to be our main focus this session because of the early and successful start that it’s got.

Now another bill we’ve managed to file in the House is House Docket 2689. This would establish the Climate Resilient Capital Task Force. The picture shown here is the worst-case scenario if all the ice melts all over the globe. This is obviously not going to happen anytime soon, but we’re already seeing rain flood risk and river flood risk in places like Back Bay, Boston, and Pioneer Valley. We’re seeing these predicted by First Street Foundation to be very urgent. So for instance, there are Back Bay properties that have 99 percent chance of 12 inches of water in them in the next five years. This is something that a lot of people are not aware of, and if you’re concerned about climate like me, please talk to your representative and ask them to sponsor House Docket 2689, an Act to Establish a Climate Resilient Capital Task Force, and potentially start a discussion about managed retreat from certain lots in Massachusetts.

Another bill we filed in the House is House Docket 3676. This would make RAFT permanent and offer a few landlord-focused reforms to boot. This is likely to pass because it’s also being worked on by renter advocates, but they filed a different bill. The main differences between our bill and their bill are about whether RAFT can be paid in arrears or going forward, which is helpful have it going forward, and whether rental assistance becomes a matter of public record at least from the point of view of where it’s distributed. Our bill would keep the names and identities of recipients of rental assistance private, but it would allow us to see the addresses. If you’d like to help us with our litigation against the Department of Housing and Community Development and pass a law that will clarify that mess, please ask your representative to cosponsor House Docket 3676 to let us supervise where rental assistance is distributed.

Another bill that we filed, this one by request, by House Docket 2951, which would not require attorneys to be present when an LLC is in Housing Court. Said another way, in Housing Court today, if you’re an LLC, an Inc, trust, or partnership, or any type of legal entity, you’re required to have an attorney, and as a matter of fact fewer than a third of plaintiffs in Housing Court summary process cases have the choice as to whether to hire an attorney.

When given the choice, however, our data clearly show more than half of landlords would rather go without, and why is this? It’s because so many Housing Court cases end with mediation. An attorney can be helpful, but if you don’t need one if you’re just trying to get the renter to respond and get rental assistance. Because it’s filed by request, this bill isn’t terribly likely to have a lot of traction early on, but if you’re interested in talking to your representative about it, ask them to cosponsor House Docket 2951.

The last bill we had a hand in getting filed this session is about civil asset forfeiture reform. I haven’t put docket numbers in the slide here because we still have to evaluate the text. It’s not actually what was passed by the Senate last session. For reasons unbeknownst to us, the Senate refile of civil asset forfeiture and the House refile are different from one another and different from what actually passed the Senate last session. This is something that we have indicated is important to the legislature, but we’ll back to you on the exact text and whether we support the particular bills that are out there.

Of course, if you’ve been following us, you know that we’ve drafted 11 bills that we hope to file over the coming years, and you can see several of these we’re holding onto for future. They were not filed this session, and some of these are really impactful. For instance, we have an alternative to eviction sealing. We have DIY Like-for-Like Repairs Bill. We have a lot more. It’s really important.

And so we want to thank you if you’re a property rights supporter for helping us get this far especially that Lead Bill. It’s a huge success to be dual-filed with so many cosponsors. If you’re a member and not a property rights supporter, we encourage you to become one. That’s how we do this policy work, and if you’re watching this and not a member, please join us.

If you’re watching this before February 21, 2023, please join me and our legislative affairs counsel, Atty. Peter Vickery, for discussion of this legislation that we’ve drafted, as well as all of our policy advocacy, which is more than just what happens at the legislature. We’ll be talking about our litigation against the Department of Housing and Community Development, and the City of Boston to advance our goal of creating better rental housing in Massachusetts.

Thanks very much for your interest and you’re support. That’s our business update on policy for today.

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