Letter from the Executive Director for March 2019

Last month we defined our idea of market certification for owners and managers, and also filed a record number of bills for housing.

The market certification will start modestly. By the end of this year, a prospective renter will be able to look up an address on MassLandlords.net and verify some basic things about the underlying owner or manager. Without seeing the name or personal information of the owner, renters will be able to learn:

“Is the name I’m writing on my check a craigslist scammer or are they really the legal owner or manager of this apartment? Is this owner or manager likely to be knowledgeable about how to manage a rental property? Has the owner or manager made a commitment to ethical business practice?”

The website will be showing, in effect, what you as a member may elect to show. Submit your management contract to us and ask us to verify your deed in the public record, and we can vouch for the name being written on the check. Choose to share your attendance records at our continuing education events, and we can show you as a superstar landlord for attending eight of the last ten events in your region. Digitally sign our ethics pledge, and we can share that self-certification with the public.

Now it’s true that most renters do not currently try to credential their prospective owner or manager. If the apartment meets their criteria and is affordable, the renter will take it! But it is equally true that some renters would look if this information were available. Parents of student renters would look. Subsidy administrators would look. And when it comes to making policy, public officials want to know – especially when they are being asked to deregulate aspects of landlord-tenant law – they want to know that we are effectively self-policing.

Our voluntary market certification is therefore a key step not only to creating better rental housing, but also toward improving housing policy.

Speaking of policy, the new legislative session is underway. The bill filing deadline was January 18. The cosponsoring deadline was February 1. We have, for a small organization, done an incredible job.

We have filed seven bills. Our topic areas include rent escrow, late fees, and security deposits, per our policy priorities survey. We have also filed contrary viewpoints on Mayor Walsh’ elderly tenants, right to purchase, and right to counsel. And we have prepared support or opposition for bills we did not file, including the Mayor’s raft of bills, as well as a Senate version of rent escrow that got filed on its merits, without our asking.

So all in all, January was a good month. We will keep working hard to realize the vision.

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Douglas Quattrochi
Executive Director
MassLandlords, Inc.