Letter from the Executive Director for April 2018

In March we made some progress organizationally. We were also distracted by the specter of “tenant right of first refusal,” a partisan policy initiative discussed extensively in this edition.

Organizationally, we started Peter Shapiro in our member service process. Peter is an experienced landlord and mediator, and there are many issues our members raise that Peter can address. Peter also provides this service to the City of Boston for Boston owners.

We started Emerson Raniaga at ABE Solutions part-time on event listing and marketing. In our modern world, marketing can be a very tech-heavy responsibility. Emerson will be helping us achieve clear division of responsibility between those who plan meetings and those who can best publicize them online.

Finally, we posted for a virtual office manager, a new role, to handle some of the manual processes and analytics between team members. This position has not been filled, but may be by the time you read this.

The major distraction in March has been right of first refusal. As an idea, it probably deserves harsher treatment than we have given it in this edition.

We had originally planned to address right-of-first refusal as a satire, but the first draft we produced was too real to the Stalinist collectivization of farms in 1928 to be funny. The proposed tenant right of first has been made palatable (to some) by giving the property to nonprofits instead of to the state. To the extent that nonprofits report to the attorney general, don’t pay real estate tax, sales tax, or income tax, and receive government grants, they are simply an extension of the state.

The right of first refusal as outlined is a shameful idea. We hope that our otherwise even-handed treatment of this affront reaches its authors, that together we may work on alternatives. The tough part about democracy is the annoying people in it who hold wrong views. We welcome the chance to sit with the tenant advocates to be reeducated.

MassLandlords is democratically governed, which means it’s time for our policy priorities survey to be distributed in print, to reach owners who don’t do email. Previously, we had been testing this out via email only. The survey is helpful, and valuable. It will now be available at all events.

The survey may be filled out as often as necessary. Individual preferences are updated over time, so that at any given moment we have a poll of the membership. This data will tell us how to rank right of first refusal and other issues as they arise. We can’t work everything, we will work what the membership most want. We suspect right of first refusal will be high on the list.

We will have more to report in the future, but for now, we will leave it at that.

Thank you for all your support, tell people about the great work we’re doing here.

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