Letter from the Executive Director for October 2021: RAFT Denials Going Once, Going Twice…

In September, Boston enacted a municipal eviction moratorium, the state revamped the application for rental assistance and MassLandlords worked hard on both these issues and more.

Acting Mayor Janey of the City of Boston announced Boston’s eviction moratorium on Aug. 31. No member has yet come forward as impacted. The moratorium stops neither lawful filings nor executions. It seems to be merely political discouragement.

On Sept. 13, the Executive Director of the Boston Public Health Commission wrote a letter to constables admitting as much: “While the terms of this [eviction moratorium] Order regulate the conduct of landlords rather than the provision of constable services directly, I respectfully request your [voluntary] assistance in implementing this order.”

Of course, the correct housing response to the Delta variant is not another eviction moratorium but rather vaccines first, and rental assistance second. The Department of Housing and Community Development has listened to our feedback about the latter. They have developed a greatly simplified application for rental assistance, now being tested. Overall, our concerns are being heard.

Have you been wrongfully denied rental assistance? We conducted a poll of approximately 200 members, of which approximately 50 could be prevailed upon to provided detailed responses. One of those members alleges they were denied. Among our members, therefore, it seems we cannot verify the state’s overall 50% denial rate. Who applied and was denied? Have your renters passed from Covid? Were they evicted? Email us at hello@masslandlords.net if you were timed out or denied.

We filed a public records request with the Department of Housing and Community Development to investigate these denials, but were ourselves were denied.

In related news, we asked for an extension to our Spanish Language Crash Course, but the CEO of the Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation, who were funding us, said, “There won’t be a next time” for MassLandlords. We did nothing wrong and were performing under budget. We have filed a public records request to learn more about their decision-making process.

MassLandlords filed an amicus brief in the case of Sanchez v. Collins. This case has important implications for whether and how a statewide eviction moratorium comes back, if ever. Article to follow.

Finally, we have stepped up our response to climate change. In this issue, find two articles indicating both the severity of the problem and the actions each of us can take to help.

Remember our dues increase is coming. And remember you can test your landlording knowledge by becoming a Certified Massachusetts Landlord™. Thank you for supporting our mission to create better rental housing.

Sincerely,

Douglas Quattrochi

Executive Director

MassLandlords, Inc.

One Response to Letter from the Executive Director for October 2021: RAFT Denials Going Once, Going Twice…

  1. PCB Property says:

    It is unfortunate that these discussions seem to (1) treat all eviction issues as a non-payment of rent issue and (2) to treat all renters the same. I have been a Boston landlord and I am currently trying to evict a roomate (who has the same rights as a tenant renting an independent unit). My issue was not about rent but the need to reclaim my property back for me and my family. As it stands I am a single woman being for ed to provide housing to another single working woman who stopped paying rent once eviction was filed.

    If lawmakers were a little more practical about managing the housing situation, they could have have done 3 simple things to keep the system flowing: (1) establish a tiering system for evictions that takes into account reason for eviction and tenant situation. This would provide greater protection for families at risk but also discourage others who have means and are capable if paying rent and/or moving to other housing. (2) establish support for matching tenants with alternate housing prior to eviction and provide incentives to landlords and tenants if their situation can be resolved prior to eviction. That relieves stress on the court system, keeps an eviction off the tenants record and promotes cooperation between tenant and landlord. (3) Discourage tenants from abusing they system by making payments to landlords a requirement (when the tenant has means to pay) and making that a condition for receiving rental housing assistance.

    It is unfortunate that these discussions seem to (1) treat all eviction issues as a non-payment of rent issue and (2) to treat all renters the same. I have been a Boston landlord and I am currently trying to evict a roomate (who has the same rights as a tenant renting an independent unit). My issue was not about rent but the need to reclaim my property for me and my family. I am a single woman being forced to provide housing to another single *working* woman who stopped paying rent once eviction was filed and who has $15,000 available to her in rental assistance.

    The current approach creates an undue burden on landlords to maintain properties, pay mortgages and utilities for tenants who are capable of paying rent but choose not to, who are capable of finding other housing but choose not to, and overall reduces the availability of housing. The current approach creates adversarial and potentially hostile relationships between tenant and landlord. The current approach essentially forces a landlord to provide housing indefinitely to a tenant with no date to take back possession of their property to do anything else with.

    If lawmakers were a little more practical about managing the housing situation, they could have have done 3 simple things to keep the system flowing: (1) establish a tiering system for evictions that took into account reason for eviction and tenant situation. This would provide greater protection for families at risk and discourage others who have means and are capable if paying rent and/or moving to other housing. (2) established support for matching tenants to find housing prior to eviction with incentives to landlords and tenants if their situation can be resolved prior to eviction. (3) Discourage tenants from abusing they system by making payments to landlords a requirement (when the tenant has means to pay) and a condition for receiving future rental housing assistance.

    In addition it causes overall harm to tenants by (1) adding evictions to tenant records which will make it harder for the tenant to secure housing in the future
    and (2) by forcing landlords to raise rents to cover these types of risks in a housing market that has become so unbalanced in favor of tenants that there is little recourse for landlords to get help even when the tenant is clearly in the wrong.

    Policies should not be written and applied unilaterally to tenants or to landlords. They should incentive fair and equitable behaviors for all parties. They should mitigate opportunities for abuse by bad actors. Not all landlords are bad. Not all tenants are good. Not all tenants are in need. A tenant/landlord situation between a landlord who owns 1 unit should be treated differently than with a landlord of 100 units. Tiering systems for both property owners and tenants could help reinforce equity for all parties.

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