Letter from the Executive Director for July 2021: Test is Live

In June we reduced our event frequency to allow the team to focus on launching the certification test, which finally is live. We also started to reevaluate the price we charge for membership dues, and looked at the state’s administration of rental assistance.

The certification test is live for members who meet the requirements of Level One, the commitment to follow best practices. Members who pass the test will become Level Two. Unlike Level One, a Level Two certification is permanent.

We describe the new test in this month’s edition of the newsletter. In a nutshell, the test helps us to vouch for landlords who have learned what a safety minded, equal opportunity housing provider ought to know. Landlords who meet the requirements of the certification program can access a variety of images and marketing copy to advertise their status to prospective renters.

As we have grown, our membership and services have expanded to offer value to all kinds of housing providers. This means our dues structure and membership options should stretch up and down the ownership spectrum from large to small owners and managers. When we look at what similar organizations charge for dues, and how they charge, we find that our “per person” pricing model does not reflect best practice, and also that memberships may be worth much, much more to some than we charge.

No decisions have been made yet, but it seems likely that we will switch to a “per business” pricing model, with dues set based on the size of the business. Each “business” (an umbrella covering any applicable LLCs or trusts) would then pay dues once, and then every team member in that business would have a MassLandlords login, member benefits, and the ability to certify.

For businesses with only a few units and one team member, little would change. For larger businesses, this would likely result in dues higher than what we currently charge. The higher dues would remain affordable, offering savings beyond what dues cost. Any change would provide us with resources to pay all required staff, and to advertise the Certified Massachusetts Landlord™ to prospective renters.

Feedback on this potential change is welcome at hello@masslandlords.net.

Turning to policy briefly, I will say that Massachusetts continues to lead in housing stability, but “best” does not necessarily imply “good”. The state continues to “time out” roughly half of all applications for rental assistance. A public records request revealed that in May alone, 5,400 applications for rental assistance were timed out due to blanks or duplication. Please fill out this survey if you had a renter go through the assistance process.

I encourage you to become a Certified Massachusetts Landlord™, and to forward this newsletter to a friend so that they can become certified, as well. Thank you for supporting our mission to create better rental housing.

Stay safe,

Douglas Quattrochi

Executive Director

MassLandlords, Inc.