Letter from the Executive Director for March 2017

Our updated rental forms will help landlords and tenants across the state.

MassLandlords’ mission is to create better rental housing in Massachusetts. We do this by helping owners rent their property and advocating for better laws. The biggest part of helping owners is educational. What better way to educate than clear, readable rental forms? The release of these new forms the week of March 6 completes our first of four service goals this year.

The new forms eliminate jargon wherever possible, without losing the legal significance of the contract. For instance, all our agreements used to say, “Tenants are signing jointly and severally.” The moment you read that to a tenant, their eyes glaze over. Our lease now reads, “Residents agree that they are renting the premises together and yet each will be responsible for the full amount of rent regardless of whether any other Resident within the household should fail to contribute their fair share.” Wordier, but crystal clear.

Our volunteers sat down with Springfield attorneys to combine all the scattered “do’s and don’ts” into two sections titled “Resident Will” and “Resident Will Not”. The Springfield attorneys represent the third major housing court division to be incorporated into our forms. Since we launched in 2014, the rental forms have also been reviewed by attorneys in Worcester and Boston. Best practices from each court have been carried forward into our latest forms.

The new rental forms also keep pace with our changing times. In our optional clauses, we provide suggestions for landlords seeking to prohibit AirBnB vacation rentals and marijuana growing. We offer suggestions for automatic rent increases, which will fight against just cause eviction rent control. And we recognize ten year smoke detectors, and the role tenants play in keeping themselves and others safe.

As always, landlords should consult with an attorney. But we hope these forms will be a good starting point.

Behind the scenes, we are working feverishly to reinforce processes for accounts payable and customer service. Currently these are overwhelmed, and some of our 1,400 paid members or 2,400 subscribers are waiting up to two weeks for help. Please be patient as we scale up from an all-volunteer organization to one with paid staff.  Members can visit MassLandlords.net/member-home/ to find contact information for our various staff.

Thank you for being a MassLandlords subscriber and supporter. I’m looking forward to great things ahead!

Doug Quattrochi

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