URGENT: Contact Your Senator and Renters to Oppose 193 H.4138, H.4356; Eviction Sealing, Debt Cancellation

Sent to 3rd Reading 😱
Since we recorded this video the bill has been sent to the 3rd reading. It is headed to a floor vote.


On February 12 the Joint Committee on the Judiciary made a big mistake. They looked at a bill that would seal eviction records and create a process to nullify eviction debts. And they recommended it "ought to pass." Separately, this eviction sealing bill was also added to H.4138 the "Housing bond bill."

This bill (full text) comes from a place of wanting to help renters get an apartment with an eviction record. But let's be honest: any time two parties end up in court, one or both of them are in the wrong. Either way, there's a story that is highly relevant to the next housing provider. We need to understand whether this applicant will succeed in our community. We need to see prior evictions. We need to evaluate prior histories on a case-by-case basis.

Even worse, the eviction sealing bill has been expanded to nullify prior judgments administratively, without so much as a hearing. This could wipe out the last 20 years of debts, totaling 700 million dollars of unpaid rent. It could wipe out judgments going forward, as well. This could dramatically raise rents for good renters.

This bill is bad for the 96% of renters who avoid court every year. Your landlord or property manager will be unable to screen your new neighbors well enough. You may find your new neighbors smoking in a no-smoking building, throwing parties late at night, committing violent acts or worse. If you have to move, your clean record won't count because it won't be reliable.

This bill is bad for good renters with housing barriers. You may have low income and poor credit and need to show your clean eviction record to qualify. A clean eviction record is the single most important factor on the MassLandlords applicant qualifier. If eviction records become unreliable, minimum required income and credit scores will increase.

This bill is very bad for the courts. You will have to hear each eviction twice with no additional funding.

This bill is bad for housing providers. You will be unable to do your job to screen tenants. We will have 700 million dollars of judgments canceled going back 20 years, and more going forward.

This bill is bad for democracy. We must have public courts. Secret courts are the stuff of dictatorship.

This bill is bad for journalists, researchers and law enforcement, all of whom would have to get court permission to access needed data.

This bill is bad for the legislature, who will have landlord-tenant law redefined in contradiction of long-established terminology. The changes we need will far further beyond reach.

And this bill has been the result of unlawful, unreported lobbying by renter advocacy organizations.

Please contact your representative and senator to oppose eviction sealing and debt cancellation. Use the Find My Legislator tool at the State House website. This bill could pass any day. But we can stop it if you act now.

Contact Your Senator and Renters Now.

We stopped this in the house! Eviction sealing and debt cancellation is still bad for us, our renters and democracy. Oppose H.4138 the "Housing Bond Bill" and H.4356 "HOMES" which both contain eviction sealing.

Find My Senator

Prepare First with Detailed Talking Points
Learn how to talk to your representative and senator.

See detailed talking points.

Read Our Full Text Analysis
This bill is harmful to almost all housing stakeholders.

See full explanation.

Engage your Renters
Who's the most badly hurt by eviction sealing? The 96% of renters who follow the rules and don't get evicted.

Get a sample email for renters.

8 Responses to URGENT: Contact Your Senator and Renters to Oppose 193 H.4138, H.4356; Eviction Sealing, Debt Cancellation

  1. Roger Williams says:

    I talked to a staff member at my State Rep Orlando Ramos’ office and stated a few of the suggested talking points. I also said that I knew that he owned rental property and hoped that he did not have any bad tenant problems. The staff member said that she would tell Representative Ramos about my call.

    I also called the office of my State Senator Adam Gomez who was one of the sponsors of these terrible bills. I was only able to leave a voice mail and have not gotten a reply yet.

  2. Jane Gasek says:

    I did contact my senator and 2 state reps. Don’t know how likely tenant input will be. Don’t think the legislators voting on it understand the true ramifications of the bill.

  3. Jazmine B says:

    Thank you for providing talking points and doing all the research up front. I will contact my rep and senator.

  4. Jolanta A says:

    I contacted both -representative and senator and shared this information with many other people. Thank you for keeping us updated Doug!

  5. Kristy B says:

    Thank you for all the info! I was wondering if there was a template we could use and add our own thoughts, opinions, etc. This is important to address with our local reps and senators. As a more than full time working RN, mother of two young boys, multiple property owner, the template would be a huge help for me, thank you.

  6. James M says:

    Well, whether it’s polite or not, this is the letter I sent to my reps.

    “Having been a landlord in Pittsfield for several decades, it is with
    the experience and years of tenant issues that I strongly urge you
    both to oppose H.4356 and H.4138. To eliminate the information we
    seek in choosing appropriately for our property and our investments is
    simply illogical and unfair. This is not the way to address
    homelessness or to keep people housed that are disrespecting
    themselves and others. We have tenants that are known to be utilizing
    their apartment for drug use and sales. A continuous flow of traffic
    comes and goes, There is drug paraphernalia, needles and such, strewn
    around common areas. The police have been notified numerous times.
    What should be a criminal case is thrown at us to be a civil eviction
    case, of course. So we will enter into the current nightmare of a
    tenant biased judicial system, one that will only be worse with bills
    that would seal such a case should we prevail. I ask, is there any
    common sense in the legislature these days? Or do we still celebrate
    using landlords as the stopgap for those so ill-equipped to live in a
    civil manner but are protected from the consequences of their own
    actions. It’s exhausting to see what has become of landlord/tenant
    laws, and what is proposed. Positively shameful, and without merit.”

    ………..I have to admit, one bad apple can really make life hell.

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