Letter from the Executive Director for December 2020: Progress Again

In November, we made progress again for the first time in a while. The courts were reporting eviction data on the non-tidal wave of evictions. Our development team restarted the certification work. We communicated compliance concerns to Cambridge, Somerville, and Boston.

The Massachusetts eviction moratorium ended without the immediate filing of thousands of cases, as many of us feared would happen. First, it would seem that unwelcome lease holdovers were rare. Second, the CDC moratorium was having a protective effect. And third, not enough time had lapsed (as of writing) to tell how many 30-day notices served on October 19 would be filed. If an eviction tidal wave is still incoming, it is not as fast or as large as feared.

If not for the ongoing policy crisis of the pandemic, we would have spent the last eight months doing something useful for renters and landlords alike: certification. The Certified Massachusetts Landlord program is now back on track, with two development team members having completed initial training. They now step into the large task of rolling out the rest of our roadmap.

The first public search of participating Level One landlords is expected to go live in January. The Level Two test of basic legal competence is written, but a technical risk remains. This test will be a novel use of computer adaptive testing. Making sure the test has an acceptably miniscule false positive pass-rate is critical to the integrity of the program and will take time. Go-live is expected in May. Level Three for continuing education should go live more or less immediately after Level Two.

We now number over 2,000 dues paying members, climbing steadily. Non-renewals are falling after the August peak, which implies to us that mom and pop landlords were selling out of the business in record numbers as the state eviction moratorium dragged on. We hope we are now past this great loss.

Policy remains a concern, not only at the state level but also at the city level. In this month’s newsletter, we detail a noncompliance with the City of Worcester “four or more” rule. Not detailed here, but taking place separately, we have notified Cambridge, Boston, and Somerville of non-compliances with respect to compelled speech, excessive fines, and privacy law. If you are impacted by an unlawful ordinance in these towns, contact us at hello@masslandlords.net.

We will keep you posted on these and other matters as they develop. Thank you for supporting our mission to create better rental housing in Massachusetts. Please ensure you, your team, and your renters wear masks during all maintenance.

Stay safe,
Douglas Quattrochi
Executive Director
MassLandlords, Inc.

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