Letter from the Executive Director for November 2020: A Time of Uncertainty

If you are reading this, you survived the Massachusetts eviction moratorium “version one”. “Version two” is now before the legislature. October was a month dedicated to navigating this transition from state law to federal regulation. We have tried to avoid a return to state-level housing partisanship. Where we go from here is anyone’s guess.

Our input in the public policy process seems to be valued and to some extent agreeable. Through the Department of Housing and Community Development, we weighed in on several aspects of the Governor’s Eviction Diversion Initiative before it was announced. We may have improved it in a minor way. Owners of up to 20 units can apply for RAFT on behalf of our renters, with their permission. (Previously the proposed limit was 10 units, and before that, no owner could apply at all.)

In the media, we seem to have established the difference between large corporate landlords and the “mom and pop” landlords who provide the majority of rental housing. Through open and candid communication (and availability most any time day or night), we have participated in stories for: Banker and Tradesman, GBH (formerly known as WGBH), WCVB Channel 5, WFXT Channel 25, 7News WHDH, MassLive, Commonwealth Magazine, the New York Times, and via local affiliate WBUR, the National Public Radio, among others. We will continue to make our unique perspective available.

Although the state eviction moratorium stopped more evictions, the CDC moratorium has stricter penalties. Violations will result in up to $500,000 and a year in jail. Now is not the time to DIY your legal actions. Hire an attorney.

That landlords now face jail time is not enough for some, who are pushing a “version two” of the state eviction moratorium. Formerly the “rent cancellation bill”, 191 H.5018 and S.2918 are now the “infinite moratorium.” They seek to extend unfunded free housing to all renters for more than a year. They would reimburse some owners to some extent over a period of 20 years. Tell your Rep and Senator what you are going through, how the CDC moratorium protects renters, and how a state extension in this manner would be ruinous.

Long-term, we must reshape the incentives under which the legislature operates. Good ideas don’t survive in Massachusetts. Instead, the Solomon-like approach to housing is, “Can you provide fully safe and compliant housing for half price?” To which the answer is “no.” All members should vote yes on Question 2 for Ranked Choice Voting. Conservatives and Libertarians take note: this is a proposal you can get behind. With Ranked Choice Voting, Reps and Senators will have to take housing provider perspectives into account. We have written about this extensively.

Thank you for supporting our mission to create better rental housing in Massachusetts.

Stay safe,
Douglas Quattrochi
Executive Director
MassLandlords, Inc.

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