Letter from the Executive Director for October 2019

September was busy. I can offer a public service announcement about municipal elections, updates on certification, and several political updates.

First, by way of public announcement, municipal elections are coming up in November, and we have so far seen historically low participation. Boston had less than 12% turnout for the city council primary. Worcester less than 9%. Springfield less than 8%.

These are disastrous numbers for the health of our democracy, especially when you realize that a candidate or an incumbent can squeak through a 10% turnout election and then enact policy with a simple majority. In essence, our cities will decide the future of rent control, property taxes, Airbnb bans, and many other issues on the basis of just 5% of the population. Mark your calendar for Tuesday November 5 or whatever date your municipality has set, educate yourself, and vote.

Speaking of policy, our Early Warning System is now open to members. Visit MassLandlords.net/ews to subscribe to local public notices and state bills being changed.

A key enabler of our policy work going forward will be our certification. Under the Certified Massachusetts Landlord™ program, we will start recognizing owners who pledge to follow a set of best practices, pass a test of basic knowledge, and earn continuing education credit. The Level One functionality is now working internally. It will be released in October on schedule.

This work dovetails with the revenue stream from Property Rights Supporters, who have funded an impressive set of results in September:

First, as described at length in this edition, our amicus brief was on the winning side in the recent Supreme Judicial Court case of Davis v Comerford. For the first time since the rent withholding statute was passed, landlords requesting rent escrow cannot be summarily denied.

Second, we have launched our fundraiser against eviction sealing. A recent court case lost by the Boston Globe (Globe v Chief Justice) shows that the free press and a free society are under attack even in Massachusetts, even by our own liberal court. It is of vital public importance that court records remain visible to the public. Otherwise the public cannot be assured of justice.

Third and finally, we have filed testimony on the proposed changes to the state sanitary code. The code is being rewritten, and since 2017 we have provided feedback in an effective and constructive way.

For all of these reasons, tell someone you know about MassLandlords. We are on to great things.

Douglas Quattrochi
Executive Director
MassLandlords, Inc.