Massachusetts Housing Policy
This part of the site is where we discuss proposed changes to Massachusetts housing policy, meaning all laws and regulations that impact housing, particularly rental housing. (For information on current laws that landlords have to follow, see our Massachusetts Landlord Tenant Laws page.)
Not all Massachusetts housing policy changes discussed here are endorsed; some of what we discuss is strongly opposed.
- Related Page: Current Massachusetts Landlord Tenant Law
- Related Page: Join to support policy advocacy
- Related Page: Use and Occupancy Motion Survey
- Related Page: Early Warning System Offers Automatic Notification of City and State Announcements
Massachusetts Housing Policy Topic Areas:
- Eviction Sealing
- First in time ordinances
- Yim v Seattle Overturns “First in Time” Ordinance (May 3, 2018)
- Good Landlord Ordinances (aka usage fees)
- Housing Court
- Eviction Study for Massachusetts Part One
- Judgments and collections
- Just Cause Eviction
- Late Fees
- Lead Paint
- Marijuana (smoking, forfeiture)
- Public Subsidy Administration
- Rent Control
- Rent Escrow
- Right of First Refusal (Tenant Opportunity to Purchase or TOPA)
- Right to Counsel
- Sanitary Code
- Security Deposits
- Social Safety Net
- Student Housing
- Vacant Land
We will add commentary and documents over time.
2019 – 2020 Legislative Session, Massachusetts Housing Policy Bills
MassLandlords has not taken a position on all bills below. When we are able to read and understand the intent, we will compare this with our Policy Priorities Survey and make an endorsement or statement of opposition.
Bills of note by topic:
- An Act to Protect Elderly Tenants
- Right of First Refusal and Right to Counsel, Boston Versions. Ask Your Legislators to Say No (Article 2019 February), see H.1315 below
- Rent Cancellation, HD.5166 SD.2992. MassLandlords opposes.
- Rent Escrow, supported by Democrats and Republicans in the Senate and the House. HD.1474 and SD 231.
- Tenant Protection Act (Rent Control) Full Analysis: An Act Enabling Local Options for Tenant Protections, 191-H.3924-HD.1100
Bills by number:
- HD 1100 Tenant Protection Act (Rent Control) Full Analysis: An Act Enabling Local Options for Tenant Protections, 191-H.3924-HD.1100
- HD 1191 Rent escrow. Rep Boldyga (R). MassLandlords supports.
- HD 1192 Late fees. Rep. Boldyga (R). MassLandlords supports.
- HD 1194 Elderly tenants. Rep. Boldyga (R). MassLandlords supports.
- H.1315 (formerly HD 3740) Right of first refusal, Denise Provost (D), MassLandlords opposes
- HD 1202 Right to purchase. Rep. Boldyga (R). MassLandlords supports.
- HD 1205 Equal counsel. Rep. Boldyga (R). MassLandlords supports.
- H.1260: An Act to guarantee a tenant’s first right of refusal, Rep. Cullinane (D), MassLandlords opposes
- HD 1474 Rent escrow . Rep Barrows (R), Sen Hinds (D), Rep Robinson (D), Rep LeBeouf (D). MassLandlords supports.
- HD 1457 Security deposits. Rep Barrows (R). MassLandlords supports.
- HD.5166 An Act to guarantee housing stability during the COVID-19 emergency and recovery (rent cancellation). MassLandlords opposes.
- SD.231 Rent Escrow. Sen Tarr (R), Rep. Robinson (D).
- S.824 Eviction Sealing. Joseph Boncore (D).
- SD.2992 An Act to guarantee housing stability during the COVID-19 emergency and recovery (rent cancellation). MassLandlords opposes.
MassLandlords will endorse issues on either side of the aisle at the municipal, state, or federal level according to our Policy Priorities Survey. We do not endorse candidates. All candidates are welcome to use our events to network with attendees for no cost, and bring literature and team members. Check with our local events teams for details.
Massachusetts Housing Policy Fun Facts
The National Multifamily Housing Council and the National Apartment Association have collaborated on Apartments – We Live Here, a study with interesting statistics:
- There are roughly 800,000 apartment residents in Massachusetts
- The rental industry contributes $21 billion to the Commonwealth’s economy
- Including servicing apartment residents, on-site management, and construction, the industry sustains 190,000 jobs
Related Article: 4 Fun Facts About Landlording
September 2020 Update
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Massachusetts Housing Policy Accomplishments
MassLandlords volunteers and staff have been active participants in Massachusetts housing policy discussions since we launched in 2014.
- 2019 May: Davis v Comerford amicus brief arguing that rent escrow is not unlawful.
- 2019 April 6: Oral testimony to HUD indicating the need to shorten Section 8 lease-up times.
- 2018 October 15: Submitted testimony to HUD for Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule changes
- 2018 January 8: Oral Arguments for RPM Services v Hatcher
- Supported oral arguments before the Supreme Judicial Court on how court-sanctioned actions could not trigger automatic triple damages. Several other arguments were advanced; the triple damages argument at least prevailed.
- 2017 October 7: Sanitary Code Testimony
- Provided written testimony on a proposed rewrite of the state sanitary code.
- Pointed out 30 oversights, misconceptions, and bad ideas, some of which would put landlords especially in Franklin County out of business.
- 2017 September 21: State-wide Policy Forum
- Established grassroots foundations for future policy work.
- 2016 March: Meikle v Nurse Amicus Brief.
- Submitted brief to Supreme Judicial Court arguing that when a landlord owes $3 in security deposit interest this should not stop an eviction, especially if the renter owes $3,000 in rent.
- 2016 March: Senate Special Commission on Housing Final Report
- Major contributor to several key areas of report.
- First public endorsement of “Insurance Against Homelessness” aka Landlord Tenant Guarantee Fund.
- 2014 October 8: Small Business Candidates’ Night
- Moderated by Ray Mariano, Mayor of Worcester ’93 to ’01
- Attended by eventual winners of Lt. Governor, Auditor, and Senate races
- 2013 November: First “Town Hall” for candidates, held in Worcester.
Recent Survey Results
- Policy Priorities for May 2019 Show Rent Control Fears (Article June 2019)
Further Reading on Massachusetts Housing Policy
- Attention Lawmakers! Attention Tenants! An Open Letter (Article November 2019)
- Gov. Baker’s Parking Thoughts: Copy Hartford, San Francisco? (Article May 2019)
- Second Semiannual Policy Forum Planned for April 14 (Article January 8, 2018)
- Senate Special Commission on Housing
- Why Municipal Elections Matter (Article November, 2015)
Members provided needed numbers and dollars to help fund our even-handed policy advocacy.