Eviction Moratorium Response: Board Vote for Surety Bond

On Friday, May 1, the MassLandlords Board of Directors voted unanimously to support the surety bond bill as a legislative response to the eviction moratorium. This vote is consistent with membership priorities expressed in the recent moratorium response survey.

Eviction Moratorium Response Survey

The eviction moratorium response survey was launched on Friday April 24. 10% of members responded in the first four hours, an additional 17% responded over the next week, with 485 total responses as of 4:30pm on Thursday April 30. Members were asked to evaluate proposals on a scale from 0 (never do this) to 100 (do this immediately), where 50 was pure indifference.

Eviction Moratorium Response Survey results. Score voting shows support for proposals on a scale of “0” (never do this) to “100” (do this immediately), with “50” being pure indifference. CC BY-SA MassLandlords, Inc.

Proposals were suggested in two rounds. The first round had four general proposals. Numbers shown in underline correspond to the graph far below.

Proposals in round one:

  1. 01 Certification: Do nothing out of the ordinary. Focus on the Certified Massachusetts Landlord and one-on-one help.
  2. 02 Strike: Go on strike by refusing to pay real estate taxes.
  3. 03 Lobby: Lobby for a second law that would compensate owners for the moratorium, like a surety bond or rental subsidies.
  4. 04 Sue: File a lawsuit to have the law overturned as unconstitutional, or to be compensated for lost rent and property value.

Follow-up questions were asked immediately based on the responses to round one:

If the respondent supported certification:

05 Cert Detail: We’re too small to take on this law at this time. By growing and establishing credibility for the association, we will eventually get the resources we need to prevent bad policy in the future.

  • I will become certified/maintain my certification.
  • I will continue to support MassLandlords’ mission to create better rental housing with dues and/or Property Rights Supporter investments as we grow.

If the respondent supported a tax strike:

06 Strike Detail: Organize nonviolent collective action now, like a real estate tax strike. Real estate taxes make sense to eliminate because like the eviction moratorium, taxes are under government control. This action will attract attention to springboard to another solution TBD.

  • I will participate in a real estate tax strike.
  • If the city or a court issues an order to pay, I would be willing to go to jail for contempt. I have nothing else to lose/I’m ruined by this law.

If the respondent support lobbying:

07 Surety: Lobby for a law now to enact statewide surety bonds. Housing providers are essential to the success of a stay-at-home order, so the state should guarantee that housing costs are covered. Every landlord should get paid for COVID-19 related losses via surety bonds or insurance backed by the Commonwealth

  • I am willing to talk to my Rep and Senator many times until they understand the need for another law to be passed to pay for the moratorium.
  • I am willing to donate for a significant lobbying effort.

08 Subsidy: Lobby for a law now to enact additional rental subsidies Housing providers are essential to the success of a stay-at-home order, so the state should just pay for rent. Rental subsidies like Section 8, RAFT, and others can be a logical follow-up to the eviction moratorium, paying fully for the time landlords must provide free housing.

  • I am willing to talk to my Rep and Senator many times until they understand the need for greatly expanded rental subsidies.
  • I am willing to donate for a significant lobbying effort.

If the respondent supported a lawsuit:
09 Constitution: Litigate now to stop this law on constitutional grounds. This is an unconstitutional taking of private property for a public purpose without compensation. There are other constitutional issues with the eviction moratorium.

  • I would be willing to fund the litigation for years if necessary, all the way to the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts and/or the Supreme Court of the United States.
  • I can find other donors.
  • I would be willing to be a lead plaintiff if needed, and to appear in public or be named on public documents in order to defend my rights and those of my fellow citizens.

10 Class Action: Litigate after the pandemic as a class action. After the public health crisis has passed, we should collect all the evidence of unpaid rent and lost value, add it up, and file a class action lawsuit against the Commonwealth for the costs.

  • I would be willing to give MassLandlords evidence of my losses.
  • I would be willing to get non-members to provide data about their losses, too.
  • I would be willing to donate to get the lawsuit started.

Interpretation

The survey results lend themselves to the following interpretation.

There was little support for doing nothing. Only 19% of members supported certification as a primary goal in response to the eviction moratorium.

There was little support for a tax strike. Only 23% of members support a tax strike, and of those, only about half were willing to go to jail for contempt of court.

There was strong support for a lawsuit. 80% of members supported a lawsuit. Of those, there was roughly equal support of a suit on constitutional grounds vs a class action lawsuit. 0% of members disagreed, and 12% strongly disagreed.

There was strongest support for a legislative remedy. 87% of members supported a lobbying effort. Of those, surety bonds were preferred to an expansion of rental subsidies. 0% of members disagreed, and 4% of members strongly disagreed with a legislative remedy.

Weigh In.

Members can set our policy priorities.

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3 Responses to Eviction Moratorium Response: Board Vote for Surety Bond

  1. Bill says:

    The surety bond is a great idea, there are 3 party’s involved, and they all benefit without a large cost to anyone.
    1, The state will cover some cost but likely after the pandemic.
    2, The tenant, if they are in good standing they can stay, not have to worry about loosing there home.
    3, The Landlord, they can budget knowing the monies will be there and they don’t loose a good tenant.

    I’m sure there are other benefits too, but this is a no brainier. I have contacted my State Rep and another in a neighboring town. I am going to reach out again to bug em some more.

  2. Richard says:

    I vote for the following actions:

    1) Litigation on grounds of unconstitutionality. (BLOCK THE BILL).

    2) In the short term, rent payments from a government-paid rent escrow. Payments to landlords start from the time that a tenant gets an Eviction Notice from the Landlord (not approval from the courts). Eviction notice can be for non-payment or other “just cause” evictions.

    3) Class Action Suit that blocks the bill. (this is a long term solution. I’ve never seen a class action suit that won quickly.)

    LAST) Surety bonds that payout after the pandemic

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