The Massachusetts Landlord Defense Fund was created in August, 2015 for the purpose of extending payment-flexible, interest-free loans to small property owners being bankrupted by state-enabled litigation.
What is "State-enabled litigation"?
State-enabled litigation refers to two types of bad situations, both of which would not exist in a reasonable world.
The first kind of state-enabled litigation derives from the problem of a third party payer. A tenant paying for each hour of their lawyer's time might be inclined to settle or to stop at a reasonable outcome. When a tenant's attorney is funded by the state or grant funding, there's no economic restraint on claims or counterclaims.
The second kind of state-enabled litigation is where a landlord was caught in a Catch-22 between the law and common sense. For instance, in an actual case taken by a Dorchester attorney, there was a gas leak during a snow storm. The landlord called three plumbers who all refused to go out in the storm. So the landlord made an emergency repair themselves. After the storm, they called a licensed plumber, who pulled a permit and redid the work.
The landlord saved their tenants' lives and did the right thing for the long-term safety of the repair. But ultimately, after two appeals, the Attorney General prevailed in fining the landlord for making a gas repair without a license. Did it matter that he prevented the house and his tenants from blowing up? No. If they had blown up, he would have been liable for that, too. Catch-22.
The Defense Fund Has a High Bar
The first time the Defense Fund was used was to help the owner of the property shown above.
The Defense Fund can be used to help any owner or manager in Massachusetts, whether or not they are a member. (But if they aren't a member, they probably won't know about it.)
The landlord must be completely drained of cash because of state-enabled litigation. It must be clear from their history as an owner that they will be able to repay the loan after the case is over and all their units are operational.
The funds can only be distributed to an attorney for legal services. The landlord must be vetted by two MassLandlords members, who both have to agree that the case is worth taking. This is difficult to establish because attorney-client privilege may prevent us from knowing all the details.
To make contributions of other amounts, please send a check to our payment processing address.
Donate, or Receive
If you make year-end charitable contributions, put the MassLandlords Defense Fund on your list. Funds are kept separately from MassLandlords operating accounts. Talk with your account about deductibility. We will provide required information.
Otherwise, just remember that we have this. Hopefully you will never need it. But if you do, we might come to your rescue.
Help us advocate for better laws.
The Defense Fund is entirely separate from the Property Rights Supporter program. If you want to make small monthly donations to help us avoid state-enabled litigation in the first place, become a Property Rights Supporter.