In the News

Eviction Sealing Talking Points Are Not Here

Compiled by Eric Weld, MassLandlords, Inc.

This edition of MassLandlords In the News features comments in the Boston Herald, WBUR radio and other media on rent control, nonpaying tenants, application fees and other topics.  

 

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

 

MassLandlords Executive Director Doug Quattrochi contributed to a news video and article by Joanna Bouras on Boston 25 News about a recent rally for rent control and a higher minimum wage on Boston Common. Several attendees noted the prohibitively high cost of rental housing in Boston, and their inability to afford housing based on their income.

 

Quattrochi points out in the article that the housing crisis is due largely to a shortage of housing in the state. “We have a need of between 200,000 and 300,000 units, and that’s just for latent demand. In other words, if you built those tonight they would be full tomorrow.”

 

Quattrochi added that rent control, when implemented, comes with unintended consequences. “Landlords increase application difficulty until basically they’re only taking the very best renters because those folks are likely to pay whatever rent is allowed and not damage the place.” He also referred to past rent control policies in the state in which rent control boards were empowered with approving renovations and improvements. “So landlords had to grovel for permission to install new water heaters, updated kitchen, buy new fridges.”

 

Read the article and watch the video.

 

 

Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024

 

Quattrochi contributed for an article by Simón Rios on WBUR Radio about “professional tenants,” those who exploit rental laws in order to skirt paying rent. The article profiles the case of landlord Peter Avitabile in Rockland, whose tenant stopped paying their $2,100 rent for more than 18 months. Avitabile won his eviction case in housing court, only to have a hold put on the eviction days before the move-out date. His tenant was given 10 days to start paying rent and failed to do so, delaying the process further, and filed counterclaims against the landlord.

 

“There are people who know how to make the system fail for a property owner,” notes Quattrochi in the article. He estimates that landlords lose more than $3 million a month due to nonpayment.

 

The article explains that Avitabile finally regained possession of the apartment, but faced a heavily damaged unit cluttered with trash and abandoned belongings. According to Avitabile, the eviction cost him nearly $80,000.

 

Read the article.

 

 

Thursday, Feb. 2, 2024

 

Quattrochi commented for a Boston Herald article about attorney representation for low-income renters in eviction cases. Boston City Councilor Ben Weber is a main supporter of the pilot. The program joins other efforts to establish “right to counsel” for all renters in the state. Governor Maura Healey has designated budgetary funds for such a program statewide, and a “right to counsel” bill has been filed in the legislature.

 

Quattrochi noted that right to counsel may not be adequate to help tenants remain in their homes if they are in court due to nonpayment of rent.

 

“No amount of lawyering can help people pay the rent,” Quattrochi is quoted in the article. “In 2023, 71% of eviction cases were nonpayment.”

 

Read the article.

 

 

Sunday, Dec. 17, 2023

 

In a Boston Globe article about rent control, Quattrochi weighed in on Mayor Michelle Wu’s proposed local-option rent control plan for Boston. In particular, Quattrochi raised concerns about the proposal’s empowerment of a rent-control board to make decisions about rent increases and other matters.

 

“MassLandlords…is concerned that Boston’s plan would permit an unelected municipal board to deny some rent increases based on tenant complaints,” the article says, paraphrasing Quattrochi.

 

The article, which focuses on a formerly rent-controlled apartment building in Fenway known in past years as the Hotel Hemenway, is part of a Spotlight series about the housing crisis in Massachusetts.

 

Read the article.

 

 

 Sunday, Dec. 17, 2023

 

An op-ed penned by Quattrochi for Banker and Tradesman, a real estate and finance publication, provides an explanation of how local-option rent control creates imbalanced and unfair state aid distribution. Via the cherry sheet formula of state aid distribution, Quattrochi explains, Cambridge became the recipient of increased state aid in relation to non-rent-controlled communities. When Cambridge exercised rent control (1970s to 1994), assessed property values declined by about 15%, which meant lower contributions to collective state aid coffers. As a result, other cities and towns that did not have rent control helped make up for the lost tax revenue and state aid of Cambridge and other rent-control cities.

 

A 20% reduction in assessed values in Cambridge, Boston and Somerville today would equal “an astonishing $577 million per year,” Quattrochi calculates, “or 1 percent of the state budget. The more towns we allow to have local-option rent control, the faster we all race to the bottom.”

 

Read the article.

 

 

Monday, Nov. 27, 2023

 

An article by Simón Rios, for WBUR Radio in Boston, about the rising frequency of brokers charging application fees for prospective renters, quotes the MassLandlords website and includes commentary by Quattrochi. Landlords in Massachusetts are legally prohibited from charging application fees, but real estate brokers can and do charge fees to fill out applications and other services. Rios’ article quotes a MassLandlords article titled “Can Massachusetts Landlords Charge an Application Fee?”: “Largely because the Realtors have a better lobby than we do, brokers can charge application fees.”

 

Brokers’ application fees have risen sharply with the housing crisis, the article notes. And rental housing has become more restrictive as laws and courts have made eviction more onerous for landlords. As a result, landlords have become more adamant about finding quality tenants. A few decades ago, tenant screening was much more lax, Quattrochi points out in the article. “But now you need to find out everything you can about a renter” because it’s become much harder to evict bad renters.

 

Read the article.

October Edition

This edition of MassLandlords In the News features comments in the Boston Globe on flood risk in Massachusetts, pet rental policies, rental assistance difficulties and rent control, as well as other media appearances.

 

Thursday, August 31

 MassLandlords Executive Director Doug Quattrochi commented in a Boston Globe article about the high flood risk for many Massachusetts properties that lack flood insurance. Quattrochi pointed to data compiled by First Street Foundation, a nonprofit that measures and publishes flood and climate risk for individual, government and industry use. The foundation reported 114,552 Massachusetts properties at risk of a 100-year flood that are not within the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) flood zone, yet carry no flood insurance. The article quotes Jeremy Porter, head of climate implications for First Street Foundation, who said in Boston’s Back Bay, “there is a 60 percent chance of seeing 12 or more inches of floodwater in a [basement] unit over the next 30 years. There is a 76 percent chance of seeing ‘any water’ (1 inch or more) over the same time period.”

“I feel like if people knew about that, they wouldn’t buy the place,” Quattrochi commented for the article. “They wouldn’t want to rent the place. They wouldn’t want to live there.”

Quattrochi goes on to note that most homeowners think they need only minimal flood coverage if they are in a FEMA flood map. But those maps are old and based on historical storms and data, not on likely future flood and storm projections.

According to the Globe article, FEMA estimates that 1 inch of floodwater in a home can cause up to $25,000 of damage.

 

Read the article.

 

Tuesday, August 29

Quattrochi commented for a Boston Globe article by Alex Koller about the difficulties renters with pets – especially large, notoriously aggressive dog breeds – have in finding places to live.

Quattrochi notes in the article that landlords have complete discretion over pets they allow in their rentals, service or emotional support animals notwithstanding.

“Landlords don’t want to be called into a lawsuit,” the article quotes Quattrochi. “Occasionally, these large dogs bite or attack people. I know most of them are sweet and that’s why they’re pets, but the fear is real.”

 

Read the article.

 

Monday, August 21

Quattrochi commented in an interview with Ray Villeda on Boston25 News about rent control.

“Rent control has all these unintended consequences,” Quattrochi said. “We really need to address land use and zoning reform, basically eliminating the requirement for single-family zoning. That would be a huge step, a big long-term improvement, it would allow us to create a lot more housing.”

 

Watch the segment on Boston25 (scroll to 3:12 for Quattrochi comments).

 

Tuesday, July 25

A bill aimed at improving air quality, including banning gas stoves in new construction, is the topic of a Boston.com article by Jim Morrison for which Doug Quattrochi commented in July. Quattrochi, who has replaced gas stoves in his rentals with induction stoves, opines that proper venting is a better near-term solution than a ban.

“When you look why gas stoves are bad, they’re bad for emissions like methane and benzenes and other combustion products,” he notes in the article. “A lot of that can be mitigated with venting. I visit many, many new construction projects where the gas stove is not vented. They’ve just got a filter above it, and the filter does nothing. It’d be really easy to imagine a kind of incrementalist step here where the bill would say, ‘If you’re going to have a gas stove, it must be vented directly to the outside,’ rather than a ban.”

Quattrochi also objects in the article to the bill’s placement of responsibility for mold on landlords. Mold is part of a moisture problem, he notes, and the state sanitary code already gives inspectors power to cite landlords. “The sanitary code now gives inspectors the authority to order owners to fix a leaking pipe or install mechanical ventilation in a bathroom if they detect excess moisture. I feel like the sanitary code is pretty well reasoned and the text of this bill originates from a pre-2023 understanding of mold and moisture.”

 

Read the article.

 

Monday, July 17

Quattrochi submitted a published comment in response to a Boston Globe editorial about how excessively complicated and onerous it is for Massachusetts renters to apply for assistance, including a 30-page application and an inefficient system. The process is overseen by EOHLC (formerly DHCD), a department that loses and unfairly rejects untold scores of applications.

Quattrochi commented: “It was the same during the pandemic. MassLandlords remains in litigation against EOHLC (formerly DHCD) over applications for emergency rental assistance. In their affidavit, EOHLC identified 47,000 applications lost to supervision. That was one-third of all applications submitted to that date. The applications are presumed printed out on paper, sitting in boxes, still waiting to be looked at. The public need to see this data. We have renters on affidavit asking the courts to release it. We all want to fix this.”

The comment received 12 likes (and no dislikes).

 

Read the article and comment (scroll down).

 

Saturday, March 25

Quattrochi was quoted in a Boston Globe article by Andrew Brinker discussing landlords’ and others’ opposition to Boston Mayor Michelle Wu’s rent control proposal.

“Landlords are going to get crushed,” he said in the article. “And when you crush landlords, all you’re doing is making our housing issues worse.”

 

Read the article.

July 2023 Edition

The second edition of MassLandlords In the News features media appearances pertaining to the expiration of Chapter 257 of the Acts of 2020, on March 31, 2023, a pandemic law that halted eviction cases for renters who had rental assistance applications pending.

 

Friday, March 31

MassLandlords Executive Director Doug Quattrochi commented in a Boston.com article about Massachusetts Representative Ayanna Pressley’s call for extending Chapter 257, the law (since expired) that suspended evictions cases for renters who had active rental assistance applications.

“Chapter 257 is not working properly because the courts and the landlords have no visibility into the rental assistance process. The state loses applications,” Quattrochi said. “All we would want to do is close a couple of big loopholes like the state not replying to rental assistance applications. In fact, if renter advocates sat down at a table with us, we could come up with a much better solution. We don’t want to lose our customers.”

Read the article.

 

Wednesday, March 29 (aired Thursday, March 30)

Doug Quattrochi appeared as a guest on the Baystate Business podcast, on Bloomberg.com, with hosts Tom Moroney and Joe Shortsleeve, commenting on the expiration of Chapter 257 (on March 31).  

 

Quattrochi commented on the state of rental assistance and what might happen as a result of the Chapter 257 expiration without further steps to solidify rental assistance programs, such as proposed legislation by MassLandlords to make RAFT a permanent program.

 

“We’re in support of rental assistance,” Quattrochi said on air, speaking for MassLandlords membership, “I think for us the question is, is the current law really working for everybody or can we revamp it in a way that works better for everyone?” He pointed out that DHCD (now called EOHLC, Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities) misplaced 47,000 applications for rental assistance since the pandemic, resulting in eviction cases across the state. “Let’s make rental assistance actually show up on time when it’s supposed to when needed in court,” he said. “Landlords really want there to be an effective rental assistance safety net. All landlords want this rental assistance to work.”

 

Listen to the program (beginning at minute 44:05).

 

Tuesday, March 28

Doug Quattrochi commented in a Boston Globe article by Diti Kohli headlined, “As evictions climb in Mass., one last measure to prevent them expires Friday,” referring to the Chapter 257 expiration.

 

Quattrochi pointed out that protecting renters from eviction while rental assistance is in process makes sense to landlords, “but the actual implementation of it doesn’t work that way.” He cited the MassLandlords lawsuit against DHCD (now EOHLC) seeking information about the 47,000 rental assistance applications the department misplaced since the pandemic, resulting in thousands of unnecessary evictions.

 

Read the article.

 

April 2023 Edition

The inaugural edition of MassLandlords In the News features numerous media appearances relating to the recent lawsuit filed against the City of Boston to enforce the release of public records regarding the appointment of members of Mayor Wu’s Rent Stabilization Advisory Committee.

a photo of Boston Mayor Michelle Wu speaking at a campaign rally, with supporters in the background wearing masks and holding signs saying “Michelle Wu for Mayor” in English and Haitian Creole.

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu’s rent control proposal, follows up one of her main campaign promises. MassLandlords’ lawsuit against the City of Boston to release public records relating to Mayor Wu’s Rent Stabilization Advisory Committee membership has attracted widespread media attention. Image: CC BY-SA Boston University News Service (Wikimedia Commons).

Thursday, March 2

MassLandlords Executive Director Doug Quattrochi spoke as a panel member on WBUR’s Radio Boston, hosted by Tiziana Dearing, on the topic of Boston Mayor Wu’s rent control proposal. Other panelists were Jesse Kanson-Benanav, director of Abundant Housing MA, and state Representative Mike Connolly, representing Cambridge and Somerville.

Listen to the program.

 

Tuesday, February 28

Doug Quattrochi appeared live as a guest on WBZ Radio’s Nightside with Dan Rea, discussing rent control, Boston Mayor Wu’s rent control proposal, and the MassLandlords lawsuit against the City of Boston for public information regarding the mayor’s Rent Stabilization Advisory Committee.

Listen to the program.

An article on GBH radio by Saraya Wintersmith featured comments by Doug Quattrochi and the MassLandlords lawsuit against the City of Boston. “This rent control proposal could have gone any number of ways, but to us as small landlords, it seems to be the result of developer lobbying,” said Quattrochi in the article. “We looked at who was on the Rent Stabilization Advisory Committee and, in terms of campaign dollars donated, it’s all developers. And you look at who’s exempted under the rent control proposal and it’s developers.”

Read the article.

 

Monday, February 27

On Boston radio WBUR: an article about the MassLandlords lawsuit against the City of Boston regarding the Rent Stabilization Advisory Committee. “We really want to understand how this committee, and how this proposal, came to be,” said Executive Director Doug Quattrochi.

Read the article.

An article on boston.com by Abby Patkin outlines the MassLandlords public records case against the City of Boston, quoting from the news release announcing the lawsuit and the complaint filed in Superior Court. The article includes a response from Mayor Wu to the lawsuit. “I am sure that everything is going to get sorted out on the transparency side,” said Mayor Wu for the article. “It is our commitment always to follow the public records law to the fullest extent that is possible and even to go beyond that where we can.”

Read the article.

WBZ News radio also aired an article mentioning the MassLandlords lawsuit, quoting a response from Mayor Wu to the lawsuit during an appearance on WBUR. “We know that many of the special interest groups who might be either listening to fearmongering or practicing fearmongering here really are just trying to stop a policy that people are scared of,” said the mayor. “Whether it’s a group that is trying to put a lawsuit forward to just add more news and make sure that there’s as much potential delay in the process as possible… – this is a different proposal that we’re putting forward now compared to what used to exist in Massachusetts.”

Read the article.

 

Friday, February 24

On the day MassLandlords announced its lawsuit against the City of Boston, Universal Hub published an article generally explaining the suit and quoting from the complaint.

Read the article.

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