Letter from the Executive Director for June 2017

In May we improved our administration. We also revamped what it means to be a Property Rights Supporter. I’ll tell you about each of these. I’ll also comment on landlord politics.

First, we rolled out a new invoice process. Members without autorenew will receive a print invoice in the mail 30 to 60 days before their membership is due for renewal. We have noticed that members without autrorenew are much more likely to lapse than members with it. The new invoice process should help.

Second, we created a new email address, hello@masslandlords.net, which gets routed to a shared ticketing system. This should help me, Alexis, Sue, and future customer support staff to deal with member requests more quickly. You may see this email start to be used as the sender on our broadcast communications. Feel free to continue replying to broadcasts and addressing specific people. Our process will make sure the note gets to the right team member.

The Property Rights Supporter program has been running for roughly a year. Last month we expanded it to four levels and started to offer participation rewards, like name badges and coffee mugs. Each member business should pay whatever voluntary extra dues you can afford. With your generous support, we can become the voice for landlords in Massachusetts sooner rather than later.

Now, about politics: There are various schools of thought when it comes to influencing Massachusetts politics. Some lean hard right and say we must never negotiate with tenant advocates, who are the enemy. Others walk the middle road, pay attention to the origins of our laws, and say “I don’t like the laws, but I can see where the tenant advocates are coming from.” A very few members lean so far left that although they own property, they wouldn’t be sad if private property rights disappeared slowly over time.

There are owners in Massachusetts today who have not lived through the rent control years. They don’t know about the owners who were forbidden from living in their own condos, who wore paper bags over their heads to testify at public hearings. They don’t know about Mr. Petrillo, who died after the rent control board ordered his house jacked up. They don’t know about the Bolognas, who went bankrupt trying to gain access to their own home.

Some owners who remember these shameful days now hold a permanent grudge against the intellectual heirs of that nonsense, and because MassLandlords would talk with them, the grudge is equally against us. It doesn’t matter what we say or do. Because we did not live the rent control days, because we believe in having the difficult conversations with our partisan opponents, we forever will be lesser landlords, unwelcome in the thinning ranks of soldiers from the last war. Such is politics!

We can all wish that freedom and equality should be universal and unarguable. But these ideals were given to us by Founders whose world was less free and equal than it is today. The political process of achieving a more perfect union may be deeply flawed, but given enough time, it will work. We have only to learn its rules and to engage in it. The alternative is pitchforks and torches, but mobs tend to make bad decisions.

We’re on to great things. Together we will succeed at renting our property, and we will achieve the fair, even-handed laws that for so long have been lacking. We may not be able to satisfy right or left, but we certainly will create better rental housing in Massachusetts.

Doug Quattrochi

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