Oppose TOPA Consolidated Amendment A to “An Act enabling partnerships for growth”

There is a bill in conference committee that would prevent any multifamily being sold for six months to a year:

Consolidated Amendment "A" to H.4879 H.4887 S.2842 An Act enabling partnerships for growth

This is part of an unrelated economic development bill. The bill has been passed in the house and the senate in two different forms. To the best of our knowledge, it is still being conferenced. We first alerted members to this on July 30. If TOPA passes conference, it would:

  • Delay sale of occupied buildings for six months until a nonprofit has a chance to step in and buy the building;
  • Perpetuate the mistake of TOPA made by Washington DC thirty years ago, since partially repealed;
  • Force owners to pay for rights we already have; and
  • Reduce the tax base in your town and city, putting more burden on fewer remaining owners.

We must stop this partisan bill. There is an easy alternative to the measures proposed.

We have prepared detailed talking points opposed to Consolidated Amendment "A" of H.4879 H.4887 S.2842, which we need you to use at the earliest opportunity by calling Reps and Senators:

MassLandlords urges all owners and managers to contact their Reps and Senators to oppose the bill amendment using the talking points below. If you have questions before taking action, reply or call 774-314-1896 and leave a voicemail, we will help you prepare.

Your Rep & Senator Both Want to Hear from You on H.4887

Legislators depend on a connection with their constituents to get reelected. If they aren’t aware of what’s good and bad, they will make bad choices. You may be the only person who is calling them about an issue. Every voice matters.

1a. Find your Rep and Senator


First find and call the rep and senator where you live. If you have time, also call where each property you own is located.


Click the bill link to see if your Rep and Senator sponsored the bill or are on the underlying committee.

1b. Recommendation:

Prepare to have the conversation in a flexible order; make notes to hit all your points.

2. Call and Start by Asking Permission to Share Your Viewpoint:

You probably will be put through to the legislator’s aide. This is OK. The aide will tell the legislator what you said. Adjust these to reflect reality:

1. “I’m a MassLandlords member/participant…” or “I’m a landlord…” “...living/working in your district.”

2. 2. “I’m ________ (insert your own adjective but do not swear: concerned; outraged; despondent) about an amendment to H.4887 An Act enabling partnerships for growth called “Tenant Opportunity to Purchase”. Can I tell you about it?” (listen for their response; if it’s a bad time, schedule a call back.)

3. Acknowledge their Current Position:

If they sponsored: “This is something you have cosponsored. I’m asking you to reconsider.”

If they did not sponsor: “Please I’m asking you to oppose this legislation.”

Always: “I have 4 reasons why this amendment is terrible.”

4. Share Four Official Talking Points.

1. The stated intent of TOPA is to prevent displacement by giving elderly, disabled, and low-income renters more time to buy their building when it goes up for sale.

a. Elderly, disabled, and low-income people already have the right to purchase. They are renting usually for reasons unrelated to how fast the market moves, for instance, not being able to take care of a building themselves.

b. The underlying intent of this bill is actually to have such renters assign their rights to nonprofits, who do have the ability to take care of a building with staff and grants.

c. The nonprofits wouldn’t be legally obligated to continue renting to the renters. They can evict their renters just like a for-profit when there’s nonpayment, significant repairs, etc.

d. As an anti-displacement measure, the bill makes no sense. It’s more of a nonprofit empire building bill.

2. Other places like Washington DC have had TOPA, they are trying to get rid of it.

a. The DC Association of REALTORS haven’t seen a single renter buy their multifamily in the 30 years the law has been on the books.

b. The I-Team discovered that renters with a right of first refusal almost always end up displaced.

c. Attorneys there make it their practice to help owners buy out renters’ rights. The market is $100 million annually. A typical renter might be bribed $10,000 to $100,000 to assign their rights according to landlord instructions.

d. Washington DC started repealing TOPA in 2018.

3. The delays in sale combined with the buyout provision amount to unlawful extortion.

a. Extortion means someone is threatening to do something, and in order to avoid that threat, you give them something they want.

b. Well, right of first refusal makes it illegal to sell any multifamily building for at least six months unless the landlord pays for the rights.

c. Landlords won’t be able to will the property to their children, move it into a trust, or transfer it to their LLC unless they pay for the rights.

d. Real estate brokers will advise clients to shop in other towns, cities, and states. Local investment will fall off in any jurisdiction that adopts the bill.

4. The bill will reduce the tax base.

a. Nonprofits with access to state and federal grant funding are likely to purchase a great deal of multifamily housing under the bill.

b. Nonprofits cannot be compelled to pay real estate taxes. So-called “payment in lieu of taxes” (PILOT) is collected as little as 23% of the time in any given year, according to the Boston Globe’s September 2019 exposé (“Boston tallies up nonprofits’ cash payments, but some critics say they still fall short”).

c. For a given municipal tax levy, the same tax burden now will have to be spread across fewer owners.

5. Share your Personal Story

Example: “So that’s my four points, let me just add: I’ve been in business 12 years. I bought this place to pay for my kid’s college and give them a leg up. I should be able to sell my property to whom I want without paying again for that right.”

6. Listen. Talk. Finally ask, “I’d Like to Ask You to Support our Alternative:”

We filed simple legislation (H.1256) that would require owners to notify renters that the building was up for sale. That’s all that is needed to eliminate any possible unfairness. With H.1256, if a renter wants to buy their building, they’ll know alongside the rest of the MLS. Then they can make a competing offer under market conditions same as anyone else.

“Please reconsider/write to the conference committee to oppose the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Amendment to H.4879 H.4887. Thank you.”

7. Fill out our Response Form:


8. Forward these talking points

You probably know a housing provider who hasn’t been paying attention. Now is the time to get them to pay attention.

9. Contact the Conference Committee

A committee of conference will decide whether TOPA is included in the final economic development bill:

  • Representative Aaron Michlewitz
  • Representative Ann-Margaret Ferrante
  • Representative Donald Wong
  • Senator Eric Lesser
  • Senator Michael Rodrigues
  • Senator Patrick O'Connor

Please ask your Rep and Senator to exclude Tenant Opportunity to Purchase from the final bill, either in conference or by writing to the conference committee.