This month I’ll review 2019 and look ahead at what we hope lies in store for 2020.
In 2019, MassLandlords membership reached an all-time high of 1,662 members state-wide, up 18% from a year ago. At time of writing, with the December books not yet closed, it looked like revenue would be up 29% year over year. We used our additional resources to continue laying the foundation of our trade association, with part-time jobs created in financial controls, newsletter writing, and website content.
Thanks to our Property Rights Supporters, 2019 funded significant policy firsts. We filed seven bills, a record, demonstrating nuanced understanding of the Housing Crisis and the policy that created it. We also experienced a very helpful SJC decision in the case of Davis v Comerford, for which we filed an amicus brief. Although this case leaves open the possibility of a free rent trick, it does eliminate a great deal of uncertainty when making rent escrow motions.
Two new services came online in 2019: the Helpline now makes it possible to get staff help on business decisions and reading the laws. Our Early Warning System now gives civic-minded owners advance warning of city and state hearings.
2019 was also a year of loss. Volunteer leaders Sandra Katz of Worcester, Paul Cummings of Greater Springfield, and Jennifer Patton of Charles River all passed, leaving us to carry our work forward without their guidance.
2020 will honor the memory of these and many more who have provided rental housing over the years by advancing the Certified Massachusetts Landlord™. In 2019, we launched Level One of this voluntary program. We have been pleased with the interest and participation so far.
The Certified Massachusetts Landlord Level Two™ will be a test of legal competence specific to Massachusetts. To our knowledge, such a test has never been offered to landlords in any state. It has been designed to identify a landlord’s ability in as little test time as possible. The test curriculum will guide new owners to succeed as Massachusetts landlords. And it will differentiate experienced owners who have stayed current with changing laws and markets. The test software works. Practice questions are identifying the skill level of our test volunteers. We are on track for a roll-out this month.
Please tell a friend about all the great work we’re doing. Rental real estate is a meaningful and rewarding business. Together we can make Massachusetts the best place to own and to rent.