Certified Massachusetts Landlord Level One™ is Searchable

Renters can now search and verify Certified Massachusetts Landlord credentials at MassLandlords.net/lookup. This member service can differentiate housing providers anywhere in the state. It will especially help in markets where renters have more choices. It will also help MassLandlords to advance our policy objectives.

Screenshot of the MassLandlords home page showing that certifications are now being advertised to renters (below image, center text “For Renters”).

Differentiating Ourselves at the State House

A primary benefit of the certification program is the ability to differentiate professional housing providers from the proverbial “slumlord.” The bad operators who make the news for illegal or other unprofessional acts tarnish the entire industry’s reputation.

Of course, most of us work very hard, are appreciated by our renters and follow the laws in letter and spirit. When we speak to representatives and senators, they need to understand the difference. What could be more clear than “I’m certified” or “That other landlord shamed in the news was not certified.” When a Certified Massachusetts Landlord™ has a policy criticism or suggestion, it will count because of what the certification means.

How Certification Helps Member Businesses

The Certified Massachusetts Landlord™ is a voluntary three-tier program included in the cost of base dues. To be fully certified, first we make a commitment to follow a set of best practices. This is available now. Second, we will prepare for and pass a test of basic legal competence. Third, we will keep up with continuing education as laws and markets change. These top two levels will become available in May.

By design, every MassLandlords member should be able to certify based on the things we already do and the knowledge we already have. At time of writing, we have just over 2,000 members in good standing. Top-down and bottom-up estimates indicate that there are approximately 50,000 to 70,000 landlords in Massachusetts. This means that our 2,000 are among the most motivated, the most knowledgeable and the most committed to continuing education.

It will take less than one hour to create a professional landlord profile on our site. This includes renter-facing contact information, a profile picture and your name.

Once you have created your profile, you can agree to the set of best practices. These should be things you are already doing. For example, we promise that we will follow the laws, fix everything that’s malfunctioning or leaking and work towards a reasonable exterior appearance. Once signed, the best practices document is a legally binding contract. This enables us to protect the brand from someone who might not follow through with the best practices.

Why Certification, Why Not Licensing?

There are three reasons why the Certified Massachusetts Landlord™ fits the market better than licensing. We have a full write-up on why landlord certification is better than landlord licensing on our site. In a nutshell:

First, landlording is a unique business not well suited to 40-hour-a-week apprenticeships like in licensed industries. Most of us start part-time nights and weekends. If we reach scale, then we work first shift. The experienced landlords on first shift therefore aren’t available to teach the new landlords on second shift. It’s not at all clear how licensing apprenticeships could be constructed with this split-shift, part-time industry.

Second, MassLandlords has already designed and started the certification program. There is no need to start a new licensing regime. We take formal and informal input any time, especially from public servants, including the courts. Anyone can email hello@masslandlords.net with a suggestion. We read it all and act on every good idea.

Third, MassLandlords is the established leader in the creation of rental housing. Over 300,000 unique visitors a year read our website. Thousands participate in our interactive events each year, including our comprehensive “crash course.” And we do this all with member dues that pay for themselves.

How to Benefit

It’s true that many renters won’t check your certification at first. But some will. And this summer MassLandlords will be helping member businesses by paying to advertise the certification program to renters. You should prepare for this in three ways:

First, create your professional profile at MassLandlords.net and get certified.

Second, upgrade your marketing to reflect your new status. In your ads, reference that your certification can be verified at MassLandlords.net. In your rental application, include a one-pager about certification and why it’s best to rent from you.

Third, provide your website or other desired contact information in your professional profile when you have units for rent. The certifications are searchable by geographic region. As the certification grows, your lead generation through MassLandlords will grow.

This certification is a major new initiative included in every membership for the cost of dues. Early adopters stand to benefit the most especially in markets where the apartments and locations are similar, and landlords compete on service and brand. We encourage every renter-facing landlord and property manager to become certified today.

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