In March we enrolled our first helpline customers, defined the launch version of the market certification, and made a major upgrade to the spin-off rent collection service.
The helpline is our answer to the dozens of owners who contact MassLandlords each month looking for personalized advice or information. Traditionally we have directed some callers to our website, which has an upgraded search engine and over a thousand pages of content. And we have directed many more to our members-only message boards, which offer more opinions than any single team member could offer. Now we can offer hourly consulting. And members can purchase prepaid packages to cover their real estate business for an entire year.
Nothing better illustrates the power of the helpline than what one of our helpline advisors did for an owner in Northern Worcester County. This relatively new landlord had a fire, which revealed 15 people had been living in that unit, unbeknownst to the landlord. Our advisor helped the owner navigate the tenancy termination and habitability counterclaims, left the renters feeling that they had been treated fairly, and laid the groundwork for the eventual restoration. The costs were less than what might have been incurred had an attorney been used for all of this information sharing.
Members can click “Upgrade membership and services” to see prepaid options. The helpline does not give legal advice, but we do have a network of attorney referrals for cases that need representation. Our cost is $90/hr.
Following a productive Board meeting, we now have a clear vision of the first pass of market certification, which we hope to roll out this summer. Individuals and businesses who want to participate will be able to turn on a public part of their member directory profile. This will let anyone see whether that owner is a MassLandlords member in good standing, how that member supports or has committed to continuing education, and whether that member has made a commitment to ethical business practice.
If you are interested in being an early tester for this certification, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, in March we released same-day ACH with RentHelper. This will reduce the amount of time needed to clear funds from four business days to two business days. This is now the fastest way to transact rent electronically via a third party. RentHelper continues to sustain its A+ security rating from Mozilla Observatory. The program has helped over 100 renters pay rent electronically.
One last note: in March we selected two new team members to help with financial controls and corporate accounting. We continue to grow and build the infrastructure needed. Together we are creating the first professionally staffed trade association for landlords in Massachusetts. Share this newsletter with one person who should know about us. We are on to great things.