Interview with Sandra Katz, QPM Services

Sandra Katz was long-time president of the Worcester Property Owners Association, the group that launched MassLandlords in 2014. She started as a child welfare social worker in New York. As of recording, her business, QPM Services, manages hundreds of residential rental units in and around Worcester, MA. MassLandlords Executive Director Doug Quattrochi interviewed her on July 21, 2016.

 

 

Interview Transcript

 

[Start 0:00:00]

 

Doug Quattrochi: Hi, I’m Doug at MassLandlords, and I’m with Sandra Katz of Quality Property Management also known as QPM Services. Hi, Sandra!

 

Sandra Katz: Hi, Doug. Good to be here.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Good to have you. So I understand you were in housing court today.

 

Sandra Katz: I was. It was a great day in housing court. I can’t always say that but today was one victory after another.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Tell me about it. What happened?

 

Sandra Katz: Well, we had a tenant whom the judge finally recognized was simply lying through his teeth because he kept saying he had this amount of money and then we found out he didn’t have that amount of money. Then there was supposed to be money coming from an agency, and she wants to know what happened to the missing money.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Really?

 

Sandra Katz: He basically said he spent it, and she was unhappy with his disingenuousness.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Really?

 

Sandra Katz: Which is exactly how she put it. She was upset that he was putting his tenancy and his children’s safety at risk, and she said, “We’re done.”

 

Doug Quattrochi: Really? So she thought he was using the money for inappropriate purposes?

 

Sandra Katz: Yes, yeah, right. He was not being mindful of his responsibilities and said and this was the part that I always gave a hurrah. I didn’t really compose myself. She said, “By the time they have the truck ready to roll, if you don’t have every penny, not partial all of it, you’re done.”

 

Doug Quattrochi: Yeah.

 

Sandra Katz: And it was a whoopee time [laughter]. I walked out of there. I walked out of the courtroom into the lobby, and I said, “Start packing. We’re going to be ready.”

 

Doug Quattrochi: Yeah, yeah.

 

Sandra Katz: That was good and then I’ve had a number of cases that we came to agreements on.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Okay.

 

Sandra Katz: So we didn’t have to spend a whole lot of time in court.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Okay. What it’s like? So this was a mediation process?

 

Sandra Katz: Yeah, to a large degree. The week before, I didn’t get out until after 1 o’clock. That was not such a great day because you were there and you’re mediating and you’re trying to come to arrangements. You’re there, so I was half a day, and when you do that with your business, it’s not always pleasant.

 

Doug Quattrochi: No, and you were there regularly, every week?

 

Sandra Katz: I feel like I should bring a cot in [laughter]. Just to ‑

 

Doug Quattrochi: You have a little desk, coffee pot.

 

Sandra Katz: Yeah, yeah. Give me a room. I’ll move in.

 

Doug Quattrochi: A place to sleep.

 

Sandra Katz: Right. Yeah, people that I met there, they say, “Oh, it’s the club! You know a group of people that were there regularly. It’s just because of the number of units that we either own or manage. It’s just the law of averages.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Yeah, and you in particular, you as you said earlier, you helped. People come to you when they’re headed off the cliff a lot of times.

 

Sandra Katz: Yeah, they’re going off the cliff and they say, “Would you please save me on the way down?”

 

Doug Quattrochi: Yeah and you do.

 

Sandra Katz: To a large degree, yeah unless it’s so far gone that you say, “I’d like to but it’s going to either so much of my time.

 

Doug Quattrochi: What are the kinds o clues that you look for when a tenant applies and you feel like – so you take a lot of tenants who are headed off the cliff, but then how do you know the ones that you can help?

 

Sandra Katz: When I look at their income and I also look at their subsidy and when that’s going to end, and we did that with one of the programs under Central Mass Housing Alliance and Five for Five went south.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Really?

Sandra Katz: In one building. That’s what one owner said, “Do not bring me one more of those subsidies because I lost close to $10,000.”

 

Doug Quattrochi: Wow!

 

Sandra Katz: The building is a number of units.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Wow! So you can absorb it. He’s not bankrupt.

 

Sandra Katz: Well, he’s not bankrupt but it certainly puts a dent.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Absolutely.

 

Sandra Katz: And then when you think about it as well, especially in this state, you may not get the income but you’re still required to keep up your property. I don’t know how the legislature or the court expects somebody who owns property, who is out a significant amount of money to keep the place clean, pay somebody for that, keep up the utilities. You have heat in the winter, but they’re not paying, so how do you pay for that? It doesn’t seem to matter to our friends in Boston.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Did you report back to CMHA about these five tenants?

 

Sandra Katz: Got you.

 

Doug Quattrochi: What did they say?

 

Sandra Katz: “We’re sorry.”

 

Doug Quattrochi: “We’re sorry.”

 

Sandra Katz: “We’re sorry.”

 

Doug Quattrochi: That’s it.

 

Sandra Katz: Not much we can do about it. We tried to help this population, and there’s just no safety net. If you’re not trained to work, if you’re not trained or taught how to budget, if you’re not taught that you should not get a 50-inch TV as opposed to like you sure you can keep the electricity on, the agencies don’t do that to a very large degree.

[0:05:19]

 

Doug Quattrochi: And they don’t provide enough support?

 

Sandra Katz: No.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Most of them actually seem to be they say like, “RCAP Solutions, our job is to make sure the checks get sent out the door.”

 

Sandra Katz: Right, exactly.

 

Doug Quattrochi: And that’s really terribly not cool.

 

Sandra Katz: No. What worries me is the financial burden on the state. I don’t think anybody really has computed how much the state loses when tenants don’t pay and you take that as a deduction on your taxes because if you don’t get the money neither does the state. If there was anybody who had two new runs to put together ‑ I’m sorry to use those kinds of terms – but at the state level, they look at, “Okay, we don’t have to raise the taxes on everybody else who’s paying. Let’s take a look and see where the state is losing so much money.” That is a no brainer.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Right, and you see it all the time?

 

Sandra Katz: I see it all the time.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Because you’re in court all the time?

 

Sandra Katz: Yeah.

 

Doug Quattrochi: And if you didn’t have to evict these tenants, then you would be collecting the rent, you would be paying taxes on that.

 

Sandra Katz: Well, not only that but the more times you lose rent, the less anxious you are to help somebody who is marginal and you can’t keep doing that.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Yeah.

 

Sandra Katz: You’ll lose your property, which is why we had such a high foreclosure rate and the foreclosure rates are again climbing. All you have to do is to look at the Sunday paper to see who’s being foreclosed on. Granted a lot of this is backlog from the previous years, but they’re catching up and you’re going to see another spate of high foreclosure rates and among multi-income property, that’s even more serious in terms of housing. You know ‑

 

Doug Quattrochi: We’re the ones who provide the affordable housing.

 

Sandra Katz: We’re the ones who are providing housing for the greater population in the state. We’re the only state, we’re the only state that makes a landlord pay to move a tenant out and store their belongings. Talk about double jeopardy.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Yeah.

 

Sandra Katz: That law has never made ‑ it’s really punitive. It just says, “We don’t like the landlord population, so we’re going to stick it to them as much as we possibly can.” If you owe me money, okay if you owe the bank money, they don’t say, “Okay, yes we’re going to forgive all that. No, we’re coming after you. We’re going to take your house. You don’t pay on your auto loan ‑

 

Doug Quattrochi: Yeah. They take the car.

 

Sandra Katz: We’re going to be repossessing your car. If you rent furniture and you don’t pay on it, bingo.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Take the furniture back, yeah.

 

Sandra Katz: Why are landlords the only ones who don’t have the lien capacity? We don’t have ‑

 

Doug Quattrochi: That’s true. We can’t put a lien on there.

 

Sandra Katz: We can’t put a lien on it.

 

Doug Quattrochi: On any of their stuff.

 

Sandra Katz: We’re not. We’re not first in line. We’re last in line.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Yeah.

 

Sandra Katz: More than, we’re last in line on any of this. Why the legislature doesn’t get it? They say, “Well, who’s going to pay for this?” Well Rhode Island, that state pays for it.

 

Doug Quattrochi: They do.

 

Sandra Katz: Yeah, they do. They have a warehouse.

 

Doug Quattrochi: It’s part of their – okay, interesting.

 

Sandra Katz: They have a warehouse. They come. They take it, and if you don’t pay the State of Rhode Island, they’re going to toss your stuff or they’ll auction it off depending on the value. Every other state, it’s three days, and you don’t pay, bingo! They come with the sheriff, and they put their stuff out. We’re not even asking to do that.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Right, we want to so in Massachusetts, the difference here there was a case where some older women had a bunch of antiques.

 

Sandra Katz: Forty years ago.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Forty years ago.

 

Sandra Katz: Yeah.

 

Doug Quattrochi: And that’s what motivated the landlord. Now it’s required to take all of tenants’ belongings and carefully move them with bonded and insured mover ‑

 

Sandra Katz: Yes.

 

Doug Quattrochi: To bonded and insured storage, right?

 

Sandra Katz: And that was under the Dukakis administration.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Okay.

 

Sandra Katz: Let’s hear it for the Dukakis administration where a lot of these laws got changed and as putative as they possibly could be is what they’ve done.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Why weren’t the landlords’ opinions taken into account? Is it because the statewide group at the time was ineffective or did we not exist? What was it?

 

Sandra Katz: We really did not have the organization that we do now. The only thing where we were truly successful as a landlord group was the removal of rent control, but that was done through a statewide petition, and therefore the folks in Boston, Cambridge, and Brookline were outnumbered because they took it as a referendum. That was statewide.

[0:10:20]

 

Doug Quattrochi: And that took many, many years to pull together.

 

Sandra Katz: Yeah. There was a judge that had a rent control apartment in Cambridge.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Yeah, I heard about this. Yeah.

 

Sandra Katz: The understanding in Cambridge was that even if you owned it, you couldn’t move into it. You bought a property and it was under rent control.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Right. If you had a condo, you couldn’t. Yeah, I remember hearing landlords will show up with paper bags‑

 

Sandra Katz: Yeah.

 

Doug Quattrochi: At the hearings‑

 

Sandra Katz: Yeah.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Because they were living in the condo that was illegal for them to live in, although they owned it.

 

Sandra Katz: And they talked about communism [laughter].

 

Doug Quattrochi: Yeah, it was different.

 

Sandra Katz: Yeah.

 

Doug Quattrochi: That’s for sure.

 

Sandra Katz: Yeah. Right, yeah.

 

Doug Quattrochi: And they’re trying to bring it back now with maybe just cause eviction.

 

Sandra Katz: Yes.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Have you heard about that?

 

Sandra Katz: Yeah, the tenant associations.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Do you feel like you have ever evicted a tenant unjustly?

 

Sandra Katz: No.

 

Doug Quattrochi: No, of course not.

 

Sandra Katz: No, no. I really do follow the law. I don’t like going into housing court not having my docs lined up.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Absolutely.

 

Sandra Katz: It is very costly to my owners.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Yeah.

 

Sandra Katz: I bear that responsibility because I then have to justify why did I take somebody into court. What I also try to do is I tell the tenant who is in trouble, “I’m telling you know I’m going full steam ahead. You can’t live here and not pay me. I’m really sorry if you lost your job. Your problem can’t be my problem. My owner has to pay a mortgage. He’s got —

 

Doug Quattrochi: Yeah, taxes, insurance.

 

Sandra Katz: Taxes, water, sewer, insurance, upkeep because you are still required by code and the law to maintain your property whether or not you have funds.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Whether or not they pay.

 

Sandra Katz: Yeah. It doesn’t matter to them.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Absolutely. Do you find tenants are receptive to that warning? I mean they know they’re being evicted, but they appreciate that you’ve been open with them?

 

Sandra Katz: Yeah. In some instances, they know that they can’t afford the apartment, so they need that summary process to get into a shelter.

 

Doug Quattrochi: They need to have that filed.

 

Sandra Katz: I’m more than happy to help them on the way out the door because I’ll get somebody else in there who can pay the rent.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Yeah. How much time do you give someone when they don’t pay to when you issue a notice? Is it case-by-case or do you have a policy?

 

Sandra Katz: I do have policy, but in some situations when I know what the circumstances are, I say to them, I will try to work with you. You have to give me something. You can’t just not pay me anything. That’s not going to work.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Right. You got to have some kind of plan.

 

Sandra Katz: Because you’re eating up utilities, the wear and tear on the property. You got kids running through the halls. There has to be some level of responsibility on the other side. If you are attempting to work with me, I will give you that shot. It’s when you burn that bridge with me, you’re done.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Yeah.

 

Sandra Katz: This happened many, many years ago. I was managing a building on Chandler Street where the tenant had brought in pit bull. That dog bit my owner and he had to go, and she also was ‑

 

Doug Quattrochi: Go to the hospital?

 

Sandra Katz: Yeah, she had to go to the hospital and she was behind in the rent, etc. We finally evict her. Fast forward like seven years later on, I’m managing a property on Chatham Street and we had a sign out on the property and in walks the tenant.

 

Doug Quattrochi: That’s hard. Yeah.

 

Sandra Katz: I looked at her and I said, “I know you’re not here for me.”

She said, “Why?”

I said, “Well, do you remember you lived in such and such an address? One, you didn’t pay the rent. Two, your dog bit my owner.”

Her comment to me, “But I wasn’t doing drugs.”

 

Doug Quattrochi: Really?

 

Sandra Katz: I said to her, “On god’s good earth you will never ever get an apartment with me as long as I’m drawing breath, and it’s a property that I’m managing, you will never get an apartment.” I said, “See you!”

 

Doug Quattrochi: Too many people who need apartments and she’s already been there.

 

Sandra Katz: Yeah. She’s crossed that bridge. She’s crossed that bridge.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Yeah. Wow!

 

Sandra Katz: People like that, I’m not inclined to help.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Okay.

 

Sandra Katz: We also had a little situation where the person said, “I’ve never been evicted!” We do background checks on everybody.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Of course.

 

Sandra Katz: Up popped five evictions. We said to her, “What did you think?”

“Well, I didn’t think that you were going to check on it.”

I said, “But you clearly wrote that in here that you were never evicted.” I mean is the word stupid written across my forehead that you think I wouldn’t do that.” I said, “I don’t think we can help you.”

We do credit checks on everybody. Nobody is getting in without a credit check.

[0:15:12]

 

Doug Quattrochi: Yeah. How do you feel about the tenant advocates’ perspective on masscourts.org, which is right now eviction records are public and you can search for a tenant’s name? They want to take all the names out because they feel landlords are using that unfairly.

 

Sandra Katz: Of course they do. You know what, and I’ve said this and I’m sorry if I insult somebody there, but there’s a lot of money in poverty. Why these agencies exist to a very large degree, that’s really how I feel about —

 

Doug Quattrochi: Because they keep their clients trapped in this situation where they need them and they have to exist to administer and to advocate?

 

Sandra Katz: Yeah. A perfect example was, God love him, Ray Mariano trying to do something better for the tenants who were living in public housing and the wonderful folks in Boston said, “No, you can’t do that.”

 

Doug Quattrochi: Yeah. Ray Mariano, the Executive Director of Worcester Housing Authority‑

 

Sandra Katz: Yeah.

 

Doug Quattrochi: For 10 or 15 years?

 

Sandra Katz: Somewhere in that range.

 

Doug Quattrochi: The properties that he took over had a reputation for being ‑

 

Sandra Katz: Terrible.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Some of the worst in the city. You couldn’t go there at certain times.

 

Sandra Katz: No. Not unless you have a Gatling gun with you or a bodyguard [laughter]. But he turned that whole thing around. But he tried to institute a better life for the program and those wonderful people at HUD —

 

Doug Quattrochi: Federal relief —

 

Sandra Katz: That’s your federal government, HUD, the housing authority in Boston, and those wonderful tenant advocates, you try to think about this logically. Why would you be opposed to helping people lift themselves up?

 

Doug Quattrochi: Yeah.

 

Sandra Katz: You jeopardize your own job if you do that.

 

Doug Quattrochi: What they said was Mariano was going to evict tenants who didn’t have somebody in the household going to school or going to work?

 

Sandra Katz: Oh, my terrible.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Okay, and we talked to Ray and actually what we found is that everybody participated. He didn’t have to evict anyone. It was a carrot and stick approach.

 

Sandra Katz: Right.

 

Doug Quattrochi: You want to live in public housing?

 

Sandra Katz: Yeah, forever, five generations.

 

Doug Quattrochi: No, you don’t want that.

 

Sandra Katz: Right. Why would anybody be opposed to one of them getting an education, a skill ‑

 

Doug Quattrochi: Yeah, a job.

 

Sandra Katz: A job.

 

Doug Quattrochi: A resume, yeah.

 

Sandra Katz: I mean the tenant advocates, they have a job, right, probably for life at this point.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Yeah, probably, probably.

 

Sandra Katz: I don’t have good feelings about the tenant advocates because I think that they have done more harm than good. This whole business about preserving tenancy, nobody thinks of the consequences on the other side of this. That’s not their interest. That’s not their concern. They don’t care whether or not we have to absorb all of these costs and the reason for that is they don’t own rental property. If the money was coming out of their pocket just like some legislators —

 

Doug Quattrochi: Or even if they had experience with the reality of the daily grind. How many calls do you get a day, which is say hundreds?

 

Sandra Katz: It starts around 6:30, 7 o’clock in the morning. It doesn’t finish until 8:00 or 9:00

 

Doug Quattrochi: And there are no holidays or weekends for you, right?

 

Sandra Katz: No, no.

 

Doug Quattrochi: You take all the calls.

 

Sandra Katz: No, and we have some people who are not always on their meds who will call you at 2 o’clock in the morning just to talk. Yeah. I have a lot of difficulty understanding how they sleep at night knowing in many instances they caused the foreclosures. In my mind, they absolutely had a hand in foreclosures because if you own a three-family and two people stop paying rent, how do you pay the mortgage?

 

Doug Quattrochi: Yeah. Without mentioning the name because the case might be private, remember we helped that landlord in Worcester.

 

Sandra Katz: Yeah, absolutely.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Yeah. He was unable to keep it together with half his units empty and not producing.

 

Sandra Katz: He couldn’t get help from the legal aid.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Yeah, he showed up three times [crosstalk 0:19:15] three times.

 

Sandra Katz: If there was ever a time when somebody, a landlord, should have gotten help from legal assistance, it was this particular person and they turned him away, said “Well, we only help tenants.” But my understanding now is that there is some relief, there is help for those who are really in dire financial straits that they can actually get help from legal aid as well, legal assistance.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Yeah. They’re trying to make the Lawyer for the Day program more fair.

 

Sandra Katz: Yeah. Right. Well, let’s hear it for Judge Horan, who was I think helping to institute that.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Okay, all right. Very good.

 

Sandra Katz: Good for the Worcester housing. I don’t think that has translated into others.

 

Doug Quattrochi: I don’t think so either. We talked to landlords in the Western Housing Court and in Boston and they have had the same experience ‑

[0:20:06]

 

Sandra Katz: Right, yeah.

 

Doug Quattrochi: That we have in Worcester.

 

Sandra Katz: No, no. I’m so glad that we don’t live in Boston or Springfield.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Yeah, I know. I know. The stories you hear are kind of terrible.

 

Sandra Katz: Not helpful to landlords, not helpful.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Yeah. A lot of this machinery, this tenant advocacy, all the subsidy is new and when you were first exposed to the rental business, it was through your family, right? Your father had – what did your father have, a rooming house, boarding house?

 

Sandra Katz: This was in Kearny, New Jersey.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Okay.

 

Sandra Katz: My father was sort of like the quasi mayor of the town. He would walk up and down the streets and everybody would know him. He was that kind of character. He had a really good relationship with this woman, who had a rooming house. Unfortunately, she passed away and her daughter absolutely had no facilities, no interest in running the rooming house.

They came to my father because we had a store where my mother handled the food, the launch of that, and my father, he was king of the rest of the store, so he did everything in the rest of the store. He started then handling the rooming house, so the police would come to my dad. My dad set up this buzzer system, so at 3 o’clock in the morning, they hit that buzzer and they knock on the window because we were on the first level, quite a colorful background.

So they would knock on the door and they say, “Louie,–” that was my father’s name, “Louie! We need your help.”

So my father would ‑ room to rent, so he’d get up and he’d get dressed and there was usually somebody who was inebriated or whatever, and so he would rent a room there.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Okay. There was no public shelter at that time?

 

Sandra Katz: No, no.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Police just knew that there was a private landlord with a rooming service?

 

Sandra Katz: Yes, private landlord. There was one situation where the police had gotten a report that someone had passed away in one of the rooms. They hit that buzzer, they got my father. They got the coroner, and so – God help me. My father, they got the person out, and my father just changed the linen, turned over the bed, and before you knew it, the police said, “Okay, we got another candidate for you!” [laughter]

 

Doug Quattrochi: Wow!

 

Sandra Katz: He said okay. Some of that entrepreneurial spirit clearly sort of resides in his favorite daughter.

 

Doug Quattrochi: I can see it.

 

Sandra Katz: Yeah [laughter].

 

Doug Quattrochi: Yeah. But you didn’t start in real estate right away? You —

 

Sandra Katz: I was a social worker with New York City.

 

Doug Quattrochi: So you know both sides of the fence actually.

 

Sandra Katz: Yeah. I worked some of the most difficult neighborhoods in New York. I was a child welfare worker and so I would go into a lot of the neighborhoods and I have to deal with child welfare and making sure that families were intact, and we didn’t have all kinds of things and I didn’t have to refer them over to preventive services and that kind of thing. I have the social work background. After just 17 years, I just got fed up. I got fed up.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Why? Because you felt like you weren’t helping or?

 

Sandra Katz: It wears you down. It just wears you down allowing poverty. Again, people not taking responsibility for their lives. You have six kids, where’s dad, where’s somebody to help out with this? At a certain point, you just say, “Okay, I’m burned out. I’ve had enough.”

I took a leave of absence and I went to work for a company that did imprintables, you know key chains, and all that kind of stuff. Somehow or another, I was pretty good at it, and my sales manager, whom I feared I would come in every day that he would fire me, but every time I made a sale, I would call my brother, who was up here in Massachusetts doing real estate. I would get, “I made a sale today!”

“Oh, my gosh!”

Then there was one, the biggest sale, and this company had never expected that I would do that. At that time, it was called Chemical Bank. I just got lucky. I remember my sales manager saying, “Don’t worry that you didn’t get the sale. Nobody in our office has been able to crack it.”

I said, “But I got the sale.”

He was like, “What?”

 

Doug Quattrochi: Really?

 

Sandra Katz: He was like, “You got to be kidding me.”

I was so excited I called my brother that night. I said, “You are not just going to believe this. I made this biggest sale!”

 

Doug Quattrochi: I closed Chemical Bank.

 

Sandra Katz: My brother said, “You know what…” At that time is when the investment tax credit had exploded, so that people who were buying old buildings, factory buildings that had been abandoned were getting this wonderful tax credit, which by the way our government took away years later on. We were getting a lot of the Boston developers, the Boston buyers to come into Worcester because we had a lot of these buildings.

[0:25:18]

At one point, my brother said, “Wait a second! If you can do that for a stranger in New York City, come back here and tap into the Boston market.”

I came up one weekend and I said, “Worcester, what do I have going here? I don’t know if wanted to do that.”

He said, “Listen! It’s time that you thought about the family, so pack yourself up and come on up.”

I said, “Okay.” It’s basically how I got started in the real estate business is actually through my brother. Then when my dad died, my sister was helping my mother and she was doing real estate in the Jersey Shore, and it was then it was time to bring Russ up and eventually brought my mother up because she didn’t want to move for a period of time and finally went when the plumbing went. I said, “I’m not driving down to Bradley Beach, New Jersey, to take care of the plumbing issue, mom. You got to come up.” Then we had the whole family here. I came up in ’83. My sister came up in ’86.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Yeah. Okay. Did you start as a manager right away or is it transactional?

 

Sandra Katz: No, no, no.

 

Doug Quattrochi: You were buying?

 

Sandra Katz: No. I have the Sanieoff [spelling uncertain] family who now live in California, and I started working with them because they had a lot of property in Worcester. At one point, I recognized that they were not managing their properties and so that they were losing money, and they had really nice properties, and it was sort of making me crazy. I said, “I’m going to manage all these.”

They said, “Okay.” It was sort of they didn’t have a choice. I’m sorry that I was going to do it.

 

Doug Quattrochi: I’m going to do it.

 

Sandra Katz: I’m going to do it. You’re going to pay me, and that’s basically how it got started. It was a wonderful, wonderful association. I treasure that training because you don’t get it in school. You have to be on the ground, you have to know what you’re doing. Unfortunately, there are not a lot of people who know how to do it or want to because this is not an easy industry.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Knowing what you know now, would you still go into it?

 

Sandra Katz: Yeah, yeah, yeah!

 

Doug Quattrochi: Yeah?

 

Sandra Katz: Yeah. I probably would do certain things differently than I do now, but I have the personality for it. I tell my tenants, “If you work with me, you pay the rent. You don’t create any problems for me, I’m like your best friend. If however you cross the line, I’m your worst nightmare.” It’s really good to stay on the good side of me as opposed to the bad side of me.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Definitely, right.

 

Sandra Katz: Because I have this responsibility to my owners. They have to get their rent. Their properties have to be managed. They have to know that it’s not being destroyed. I built the business the last 15, 20 somewhat years.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Yeah. A lot of the time, you were also running the Worcester Property Owners Association, right?

 

Sandra Katz: Yes. I got into it. Irene Chiavalloti I think was the first one, and then JoAn Geissler was the next president. I wanted to make those various connections because when I came up, I didn’t know anybody here.

 

Doug Quattrochi: You went looking for something like Worcester property owners?

 

Sandra Katz: I needed to make the connections, and I discovered the property owners association and I thought, “This is such a worthwhile organization because nobody is advocating for the landlords.”

 

Doug Quattrochi: You were immediately interested in the public policy side of things?

 

Sandra Katz: I was a union organizer in New York City, so it sort of translated up here.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Okay. As part of the social work or separate?

 

Sandra Katz: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Really? Okay.

 

Sandra Katz: Yeah. It was the dumbest union going. We went on strike for no money. I mean it was just stupid and we all got arrested, so I spent the weekend.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Really?

 

Sandra Katz: I called up my father and he said, “I’m not bailing you out. You made a stupid mistake! Why would you go out and strike for no money? [laughter]”

[0:30:02]

 

Doug Quattrochi: Wow!

 

Sandra Katz: Then finally we got bailed out, but I have that background, boots on the ground, all that kind of good stuff. I was able to translate that when I came up here and I started an organization called Women in Sales, and then I turned those reins over to other people when we got really started again because I needed the connections. I didn’t know anybody here. Then I found the landlords association, which any landlord in this state who is not a member of a landlord association is making a critical mistake. Not only is it important for public policy but the whole educational component.

With our organization, we have the message board, which is lifesaving. I mean I have just been amazed at how we will help each other. You need an electrician, you need a plumber, you need a mason, you need a roofer. Somebody will give you some advice. We don’t hold back. We don’t keep that close to the vest. We’re the kind of people that actually want to share and help another landlord.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Right. It’s very true.

 

Sandra Katz: Because it’s better for the industry if you do. Any landlord who is listening to this, the sound of my voice, please you’ll learn so much. There isn’t a meeting that does not occur that doesn’t have something that you’re going to learn. I’ve been in this 25, 30 years; every time I come to a meeting, I learn something new, and not only that. I have a lot of good friends through the association. It means you’re not alone in this battle. You can go to other people who have had similar experiences. You can go to them for advice and you don’t have to go off the cliff by yourself.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Yeah. It’s very eye opening. I can vouch –

 

Sandra Katz: Yeah.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Because you were president running the meeting. It was the Elks Lodge at the time, right?

 

Sandra Katz: Right, Elks Club, yeah.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Elks Club.

 

Sandra Katz: Up there on Mill Street.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Yeah, that was the first meeting I went to.

 

Sandra Katz: Right.

 

Doug Quattrochi: That was December, and the next meeting, January, was at the MLK Building the first time the first time you [crosstalk 0:32:30]

 

Sandra Katz: All right. I’m not sure. Where you there when Judge Martin was still on the bench?

 

Doug Quattrochi: Nope. No, we didn’t see each other.

 

Sandra Katz: The meeting and people who were there will remember this. There was a meeting at Judge Martin, and I think that we hoped to sensitize him to landlord issues, but there was a woman who in all innocence, all innocence, said, “I don’t rent to families with children because I don’t have a delead certificate.” The place exploded, absolutely exploded.

Judge Martin I thought was going to have an absolute heart attack at that meeting [laughter]. He said, “Oh, my gosh! Please don’t ever come into my court because that wouldn’t be good.” Then she realized afterwards. Somebody took her aside.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Somebody took her aside.

 

Sandra Katz: We took her aside.

 

Doug Quattrochi: But it was a good thing she went to that meeting ‑

 

Sandra Katz: Yeah.

 

Doug Quattrochi: And had that experience there where there were no consequences compared to in-court where she would have been toast.

 

Sandra Katz: Yeah. There was again a really famous case and had to do with Judge Martin where there was somebody had just bought a three-family and he went down to this basement to check on his building. He saw two brand-new washers and dryers and then there was one that was sort of beat up. He says, “I’m not going to have a beat-up in my basement.” He took that.

The tenant comes home from work late at night and, “Where’s my washer? Where’s my dryer?”

One of the tenants said, “The new owner just took it out.”

“What?” They went to court and then he says to the judge, “I own the building. I’m not going to have something like that in my property.” Very haughty.

Judge Martin says, “You’re in my court, and here’s what you’re going to do. You’re going to buy that lady a brand-new washer and dryer and then you’re also going to compensate her for this anxiety or whatever.”

 

Doug Quattrochi: Oh, boy!

 

Sandra Katz: I said to myself, “Boy! That’s a lesson learned. I will make sure never to do anything like that.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Yeah, seriously.

 

Sandra Katz: Again if you’re a landlord and you’ve been lucky that you’ve never have been to housing court, I’m telling you now, go there on a Thursday, see what happens in court just so that you’re prepared. And as Judge Horan says, “Some landlords are making the same mistake over and over and over again. They don’t fill out the forms correctly.”

 

Doug Quattrochi: They file…

 

Sandra Katz: They don’t put the proper information there. They didn’t file it on time.

 

Doug Quattrochi: They filed multiple notices to quit.

 

Sandra Katz: Yeah. That’s your favorite one.

 

Doug Quattrochi: That [crosstalk 0:35:00].

[0:35:00]

 

Sandra Katz: Yeah. You gave a 14-day notice and then you go to a 30-day notice. It doesn’t work.

 

Doug Quattrochi: You think you’re covering all your bases, but it doesn’t work.

 

Sandra Katz: It doesn’t work that way.

 

Doug Quattrochi: No.

 

Sandra Katz: What’s also important and why this organization is so important is that the laws are weighted against you. So that by coming to the meetings, the fact is by you learn so much and that you will avoid a lot of the missteps that other landlords make just because they honestly don’t know.

 

Doug Quattrochi: That’s important. It’s not malice. They’re not slumlords.

 

Sandra Katz: No.

 

Doug Quattrochi: They’re not just aware.

 

Sandra Katz: They just don’t know. If you’re familiar enough with the codes and the code department. My friends down in the code department, I try to stay on their good side. So it’s important to know one of the big problems that I constantly see is this cross-metering.

 

Doug Quattrochi: For electrical?

 

Sandra Katz: Yeah. For electrical and that’s a big no-no.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Yeah.

 

Sandra Katz: We also handle real estate and my sister and I are partners in that. There’s an offer for a property. There were two properties, one in the back of the other. There were no landlord’s meters on either one and it was not written in the tenancy agreement about the common area electricity.

 

Doug Quattrochi: No. Common area, exterior lights, halls, stairs, yeah.

 

Sandra Katz: I said to my buyer, “You can’t do this. You can’t buy it because you will be subject to all of the regulations that relate to cross-metering.

 

Doug Quattrochi: I think you have to pay the tenant all their utility bills back from the beginning.

 

Sandra Katz: Yeah, yeah, which could be and they could slap you with other kinds of fines.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Yeah.

 

Sandra Katz: The offer that we made was we’re going to reduce it down by X amount of dollars because you got to put in the meters. You don’t learn that by yourself.

 

Doug Quattrochi: No, you don’t. You can’t Google it.

 

Sandra Katz: No, you can’t.

 

Doug Quattrochi: You can’t find it any either way.

 

Sandra Katz: You come to a landlord association. There are things that you will ‑ Judge Horan comes to us once a year. You can’t pay to get that education. It is just invaluable.

 

Doug Quattrochi: No. I know.

 

Sandra Katz: And why not be part of an association that’s there to help you, to be your advocate? It’s for your benefit. Why do you want to go this alone? I don’t understand why somebody wants to go this alone even if you’ve been in the business for 20, 30 years. There is safety in numbers, and on public policy, the more numbers you have, that’s why the policeman’s union is so strong, the fireman’s union, sanitation, teachers, all of those organizations that have thousands and thousands of members, legislators don’t want to mess with them because their votes, their votes.

 

Doug Quattrochi: No. Yeah.

 

Sandra Katz: It’s important that the organization grow if nothing else for the numbers so that you can affect public policy. Why don’t we have rent escrowing in the state? Everybody else does.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Yeah. All the other states do.

 

Sandra Katz: And it preserves tenancy. There’s nothing unconstitutional about rent escrowing, nothing at all. it helps the tenant because eventually you don’t have the money, I’m getting the apartment.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Yeah. There’s no way no matter how drawn out the eviction is, the landlord always gets the apartment back in the end.

 

Sandra Katz: Yeah. So you can talk me about preserving tenancy. Why the advocates are so opposed to this? It just doesn’t make any sense to me at all. It just doesn’t. I wish that they don’t see us as the enemy, but my sense is that they do and they’ll do whatever they can to fight you tooth and nail, but eventually we’re going to get the unit. We will.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Yeah, I know. I hope the tenant advocates will start to look at MassLandlords as more of a voice at the table rather than the opposition because we really do have a lot of good ideas if they will just listen.

 

Sandra Katz: Right.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Yeah. They’re —

 

Sandra Katz: That will be true also of our legislators. If they will just listen.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Yeah, and so we’re at about 1,200 members now and we figure there are 70,000 landlords in Massachusetts. What do you think would be the way to reach the landlords that maybe don’t know about us or haven’t felt the need to join yet?

 

Sandra Katz: I think a lot of it comes down to publicity and getting on as many programs that can give us the publicity to know about that. For example, if you’ve just bought your first three-family, your first four units and you really don’t know just because you’re all involved in the property that you just bought and you’re sort of like a duck out of water that you don’t know a lot of things that you don’t know.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Right.

 

Sandra Katz: And so they may not know about us, and I do think that the more publicity we have and the more word of mouth and the more getting the word out about us, we’re in a great location. I’m just so thrilled—

[0:40:28]

 

Doug Quattrochi: In Worcester, the Worcester [crosstalk 0:40:30].

 

Sandra Katz: We have Worcester Vocational High School, great location. It’s easy. It’s basically easy to get to. It’s certainly comfortable there and we still have food, right?

 

Doug Quattrochi: Yeah.

 

Sandra Katz: Good. We got mail.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Yeah.

 

Sandra Katz: And —

 

Doug Quattrochi: We’re trying to as usual, we’ve done Worcester as the standard for other meetings throughout the state.

 

Sandra Katz: Right.

 

Doug Quattrochi: So we have the same quality of programs and food.

 

Sandra Katz: Right, right. I think this organization is the voice of the landlords and there’s nobody else out there. There’s nobody else out there doing this.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Yeah. Mass Rental Housing has kind of gone kaput.

 

Sandra Katz: Yeah, yeah. That’s so sad.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Yeah.

Sandra Katz: But the fact is that I think we are way more organized and the people who come to the meetings I think really appreciate it.

 

Doug Quattrochi: I think you’re right, yeah.

 

Sandra Katz: I think they appreciate what we’re trying to do and the fact that we have their interest first and foremost and therefore as I say you don’t have to go in alone. Who wants to try to fight this battle by themselves? You’re getting nowhere. You’re getting nowhere. It has to be in large numbers. It really has to be, that’s why Mass Association of Realtors is also as strong as they are because they’re 16,000 throughout the state.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Also realtors, if you are a natural realtor, you have certain benefits, but you also have certain requirements. You have to do continuing education, right?

 

Sandra Katz: Yes, oh yeah.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Should we move to a model like that for landlords in Massachusetts?

 

Sandra Katz: I think it would be good if we could. The more training they have, the more education they have, the more we’re seen as being responsible as opposed to the picture that’s been painted that we’re a bunch of greedy SOBs, which always rankles me because I know what I put into my property and someone give me back that money. The more education we can have, the better I think it is for us, but that’s why state legislation that you have to have the continuing education.

 

Doug Quattrochi: You have to be licensed.

 

Sandra Katz: Right and you’re licensed, so you can’t practice real estate in the state without a license and you pay dearly for that. There is a desire to keep up that license because that’s how you make a living. Without the license, you’re out of business.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Right. There are a lot of landlords who operate without a license and without the knowledge and they give the rest of the group a bad name because they go off and do really egregiously wrong things.

 

Sandra Katz: Right. I never want to have part of an organization somebody who is seen as a slumlord. I don’t think that we’re interested in bringing in that kind of person into our organization. I do believe this 100 percent in my heart that the people who are involved with our organization really care about their property and want to be known as a responsible owner. Nobody wants to be known as a slumlord. Who wants that label on them? I think the people who are members have a greater interest in their property and are not just simply trying to rake in that money and not take care of their properties and not care about their tenants because their tenants are their lifeline, so you want to take care of them ‑

 

Doug Quattrochi: Yeah, Absolutely true.

 

Sandra Katz: To make sure that they’re happy. Not everybody is happy with me. Some of the tenants are not happy with me at all, but that’s as I say, “I’m your friend when you do right. I’m not so good to you when you don’t.” It’s just a creed that I live by.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Yeah. If you had advice for new landlords besides joining up with MassLandlords and your local group, what would it be? What are the big things that new landlords mess up?

 

Sandra Katz: They don’t know the laws. They are really babes in the woods and not knowing that you can’t have cross-metering, not knowing that you can’t discriminate when it comes to lead situation, not knowing about your written tenancy agreements and how they have to include certain things, not knowing about code. They need to know everything they can possibly know about their property that relates to the code department and that also relates to the housing laws. You can’t just go in, change the lock, and put their stuff out. You may want to ‑

[0:45:18]

 

Doug Quattrochi: Even if you have to, you cannot.

 

Sandra Katz: But you cannot, so somebody who does something foolish like that is going to suffer mightily and this is where we’re the biggest help, I think. A new owner has to become familiar with the property. The other thing also is that if you are a new owner and you live in East Pawtucket or you’re out of the area and then you get a phone call at 2 o’clock in the morning, you can’t scream into the phone, “Call me tomorrow morning!”

You can’t do that.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Yeah.

 

Sandra Katz: In some situations, you may want to consider having a management company, take care of your property if you’re so far out of the area, if you don’t know enough. I had a couple in my office just the other day and they’re buying a two-family. My first reaction to that was as an investment really tough.

 

Doug Quattrochi: It’s going to be really tough.

 

Sandra Katz: Because one person goes out, half of your income is out.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Yeah, exactly.

 

Sandra Katz: But they also didn’t know much about the land laws and things of that nature. Unfortunately, a lot of the realtors are not really up on these housing laws and codes.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Really?

 

Sandra Katz: I’m so sorry to say this about my industry but you have just a lot of newbies. The people that are not really grounded in what the laws are. I basically said to this couple, “There are certain things that you need to know and I’m going to suggest certain things that you do and check with your realtor on the following things. I’m not telling you not to buy it. It’s a good area and it looks to be a really decent property but you need to know certain things.”

There were at least landlord meters. The first question I asked is, “Is there a landlord’s meter?”

 

Doug Quattrochi: Okay. Was there lead paint in the property?

 

Sandra Katz: They don’t know because it’s an unknown but when I saw the pictures, I said, “You know what, I think you’re okay.” But then I gave them a resource for them to contact. It’s that kind of thing. It’s the resources that we’re able to provide to a lot of landlords ‑

 

Doug Quattrochi: Yeah, that’s true.

 

Sandra Katz: A lot of property owners that other people just can’t provide this. They don’t know. It’s you don’t know what you don’t know.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Yeah, definitely not. So you are a subsidy expert. You rent to tenants who are Section 8, Mass Rental Voucher Program ‑

 

Sandra Katz: Yeah, yeah.

 

Doug Quattrochi: HomeBASE, all these things.

 

Sandra Katz: Yeah.

 

Doug Quattrochi: When you first have a tenant apply with a subsidy, how do you approach that?

 

Sandra Katz: Well, the first thing I want to know is that what’s their income because they’re going to be paying a portion of their rent. So I need to know whether or not because if our building doesn’t include the utilities, I need to know that you have enough income that you can pay for the gas and the electric.

 

Doug Quattrochi: It’s all kind of the same to you, HomeBASE, MRVP‑

 

Sandra Katz: Yeah.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Section 8.

 

Sandra Katz: Yeah. I have a great relationship with the Worcester Housing Authority. I think they do a terrific job, and I think you get much more from them than you do from a lot of the other organizations. Some people that you call some these organization, you never get to talk to anybody. It’s one of the frustrations that we have, and in fact in court today, one of the proviso that the judge asked is that if we would get in touch with the person at this other organization that was supposed to give him paperwork. The judge said, “Please put the phone call in.”

I wanted to say, but of course I’m not allowed because I’m an attorney, “Oh, forget it. You’ll never get through. Nobody ever answers the phone over there. No.” True to form, we go out to the lobby, put the phone call in.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Nobody answers.

 

Sandra Katz: Voicemail, voicemail, voicemail, all the time. It’s that kind of frustration that we have with some of the agencies that don’t take it to the next level. I’d love to see what’s the rent that my owner wants. If it includes any utilities, am I going to get a higher rent. Again I need to see whether or not this tenant can pay the 30 percent because that’s ‑

 

Doug Quattrochi: That’s how it works, yeah.

 

Sandra Katz: That’s what you have to pay.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Yeah, 30 percent.

 

Sandra Katz: And you have to pay the utilities. I made the mistake – I’ll going to flat out tell you, I made the mistake with a HomeBASE program and that’s the five that went south. They were restricted in terms of what they could do, so ‑

[0:50:08]

 

Doug Quattrochi: That program runs out after 12 months.

 

Sandra Katz: Exactly.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Is that when you had the problem when the program ran out?

 

Sandra Katz: We had it even before that because they weren’t coming up with their portion and all of a sudden we found out the utilities weren’t being paid and then we had people that were in there that should not have been in there.

[0:50:23]

 

Doug Quattrochi: Oh, boy.

 

Sandra Katz: There is no big follow-up with. They got a pit bull. They got this. They got that.

 

Doug Quattrochi: And you’re on your own when that happens.

 

Sandra Katz: Absolutely.

 

Doug Quattrochi: The administrator doesn’t help you one bit.

 

Sandra Katz: No, no, no. That’s not their job.

 

Doug Quattrochi: No.

 

Sandra Katz: It’s all on you. So at a certain point, you have to say, “I can’t do this anymore. I can’t take this program.”

 

Doug Quattrochi: Well, what do you think about this idea we’ve pitched, the insurance against homelessness‑

 

Sandra Katz: Yeah.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Where the landlord who takes someone out of shelter would receive a guarantee of $10,000 if the tenant had to be evicted and there were attorney’s fee, unpaid rent, or property damage?

 

Sandra Katz: Well, that’s the big thing is the property damage as well because if you take a security deposit in the state, God help you if you have one little issue that’s out of compliance. They’re coming after you guns blazing.

 

Doug Quattrochi: They absolutely are because they can get treble damages.

 

Sandra Katz: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Why anybody thinks that that’s fair, so you didn’t put down the address of the bank, “Oh, shoot me!” The address? I’m sorry. So you’re going to get me for treble damages on something like that? It just doesn’t make any sense. The laws are just weighted against us.

 

Doug Quattrochi: But if you had the insurance guarantee.

 

Sandra Katz: If you had the insurance guarantee, but the big thing for me is that that has to be administered by a third separate entity. It cannot go through any of these social service agencies. It cannot be with any of these tenant advocate groups. I would not participate in the program.

 

Doug Quattrochi: You wouldn’t trust it?

 

Sandra Katz: I would absolutely not.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Well, this is the major features of Seattle’s program.

 

Sandra Katz: Right.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Well They actually have a landlord-facing advisor that the landlords have to call if there is any issue.

 

Sandra Katz: Right.

 

Doug Quattrochi: And then they actually help the landlord.

 

Sandra Katz: Right.

 

Doug Quattrochi: They don’t say, “Not my job.” They actually walk them through it.

 

Sandra Katz: Right. Then I would be interested. Without that, I don’t trust. I don’t trust how a program like that would be handled.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Yeah, and you’re not alone. The survey data from our members show that most people, with the exception actually of HAPHousing in Springfield, most of the regional administrators of subsidies are not trusted to help landlords.

 

Sandra Katz: Right, right.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Yeah. And HAPHousing is going above and beyond their job description when they do offer landlords help.

 

Sandra Katz: Yeah, I’m sure.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Absolutely, yeah.

 

Sandra Katz: I’m sure, so that’s the only way that I would be willing to participate in something like that. If you don’t have the income that I’m looking for, that I know that I’m not going to be in court costing my owner a lot of money.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Absolutely.

 

Sandra Katz: I feel so bad, I really do for this one owner that I thought we were helping people in this program and that we were going to get really good assistance from that agency and then ‑

 

Doug Quattrochi: Because the agency would have promised that when they said that ‑

 

Sandra Katz: You know.

 

Doug Quattrochi: When you said that you call up, yeah.

 

Sandra Katz: Right, and then finally one of the other programs that we were taking, they also sort of disappeared in terms of help. I said, “Listen, guys, you want my units. You want help from me, but then you disappear when I need you. What benefit is it to me?”

 

Doug Quattrochi: Right. Why would I ever do this again?

 

Sandra Katz: You’re going to pay the legal fees?

 

Doug Quattrochi: Yeah, of course not.

 

Sandra Katz: “No. You’re going to go to court with me? No. Then what are you doing? How are you helping me.” So that doesn’t seem to be that equality here. It’s all on us. We’ll do the subsidy but this is where we draw the line. Well, okay.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Yeah. Obviously it’s not working because we still have thousands of people in shelter and emergency assistance.

 

Sandra Katz: In motels that’s costing the state a fortune, right?

 

Doug Quattrochi: Motels. Yeah.

 

Sandra Katz: We’re the tenant advocates on this. Why don’t they see this?

 

Doug Quattrochi: Yeah, I don’t know.

 

Sandra Katz: I don’t either.

 

Doug Quattrochi: It could be like you said, there’s a lot of money in poverty.

 

Sandra Katz: I think so. That’s the callousness that you develop.

 

Doug Quattrochi: So if landlords’ last major victory was defeating rent control in 1994 ‑

 

Sandra Katz: Yeah.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Do you think any of these other issues would be amenable to a popular referendum where everybody who’s not involved in the social welfare system can see the waste and the lost opportunity?

 

Sandra Katz: I think it would be but you would have to educate the populace as to how it affects them in their pocketbook because that always gets somebody, but if it’s, “I don’t care. I don’t have any tenants. Why do I care if they’re not‑”

[0:55:05]

 

Doug Quattrochi: Yeah. A lot of our issues seem very esoteric.

 

Sandra Katz: Yeah. If you make clear how it affects their taxes….

 

Doug Quattrochi: The cost of apartments, yeah.

 

Sandra Katz: That I think you have a shot at. We’re the bluest of the blue states.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Because of our…

 

Sandra Katz: How we ever got successful in my opinion and getting Charlie Baker and Karyn Polito to be two top dogs in the state is to me a miracle. But I think a number of us were like, “I’m fed up with the other party and how much they were not helping us.” Again, it boggles my mind how they don’t see the correlation between the monies that are being lost to the state. I don’t think you have to raise the tax to look to see where you’re losing the money with practice, all that kind of stuff.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Yeah, yeah.

 

Sandra Katz: I don’t think you would need to always be known as a Taxachusetts State if we could just get people in Boston to see that there is such a correlation. I firmly believe there is a strong correlation between the foreclosures and multi-income besides the bank but these laws, I mean it’s like you guarantee that you’re going to lose. It’s like a guarantee if you’re not smart about it, if you don’t know how to manage it. Unfortunately, a lot of people really don’t know. You have people who don’t speak the language. They’re sold to build goods by somebody who doesn’t necessarily have their interest at heart, so they make one mistake, boy, you find out about it financially.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Yeah, especially if they are a small landlord‑

 

Sandra Katz: Right.

 

Doug Quattrochi: In a three-decker, you want a few units goes out of service because you got an eviction going on.

 

Sandra Katz: Yeah.

 

Doug Quattrochi: That not only is your profit for the year but probably your operating budget as well.

 

Sandra Katz: Guaranteed, and then on top of that, if you’ve lost the income but you also have damages to your building ‑

 

Doug Quattrochi: How are you going to rehab that?

 

Sandra Katz: How do you that because you can’t rent it again unless you’ve made those repairs and I love it when an owner says, “Well, the tenant says they were going to fix up the apartment, so I let them in.”

 

Doug Quattrochi: [crosstalk 0:57:37].

 

Sandra Katz: Classic mistake.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Classic mistake.

 

Sandra Katz: Classic mistake. “Oh, sure. I’ll let you fix the wall. I’ll let you do the floor. I’ll let you‑”

 

Doug Quattrochi: Have you ever had a tenant do any kind of repair to the apartment that were [crosstalk 0:57:48].

 

Sandra Katz: Not under my control.

 

Doug Quattrochi: No?

 

Sandra Katz: No way! No, no, no. First of all, there’s a liability. You hurt yourself ‑

 

Doug Quattrochi: That is true.

 

Sandra Katz: Doing work in one of my buildings and you fall off a ladder, guess who’s going to get sued?

 

Doug Quattrochi: Yeah, you.

 

Sandra Katz: No, no, no. You want to do electrical stuff?

 

Doug Quattrochi: Definitely not.

 

Sandra Katz: No, no, no. Not happening. No, no. That is why I believe in expertise. I like electricians, plumbers. I like contractors.

 

Doug Quattrochi: I know. You don’t do your own handiwork. You hire professionals.

 

Sandra Katz: I don’t. I don’t

 

Doug Quattrochi: Well in that case, you’re required to.

 

Sandra Katz: Yeah.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Electricians, plumbers must be licensed.

 

Sandra Katz: Yeah. Right. But I’m not paving my driveway [laughter]. I’m too old if order for me to do that. I’ll let somebody else take on that responsibility. I’ll figure I’m entitled at this age.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Yeah. you have a pretty good team. You have somebody in your phone for every situation, right?

 

Sandra Katz: Yeah.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Plus you have a large office. You got [crosstalk 0:58:46] for you.

 

Sandra Katz: Well, it’s a medium-sized office. I have ‑

 

Doug Quattrochi: Medium.

 

Sandra Katz: I have three agents and I have a bookkeeper, and I have someone who handles the condo, and then I have the best personal assistant that God gave me, I’m telling you. I will say her name: Angie Vividor is a blessing.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Angie is quite good because she has grace under fire.

 

Sandra Katz: Oh, my goodness! Yes, she does. Yes, she does.

 

Doug Quattrochi: You have a lot of emergency calls ‑

 

Sandra Katz: Right.

 

Doug Quattrochi: A lot of situations come up. She’s completely steady.

 

Sandra Katz: And if I can’t find something, when I can’t find something, I’m like, “Angie, help me.”

 

Doug Quattrochi: Yeah, she’s right on top.

 

Sandra Katz: And she does. She does. She is just the best thing since sliced bread.

 

Doug Quattrochi: You must know a thing or two about hiring people. What do you look for when you’re trying to build your team, who you’re going to work with? Is it just gut feel?

 

Sandra Katz: Some yes and some no. When you’ve in this business, there are mistakes that one makes along as well.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Of course.

 

Sandra Katz: I had a different team but they were just starting out, and I said, “Okay, I’m a good mentor, so I like to bring people along. But if I see that you have a level of responsibility, if you have an interest in this business, if our personalities are going to meld as opposed to, “Oh, my gosh! They’re coming into my office again today. I think I’ll put a gun into my head.” I love to see what their resume is also and if you had some experience somewhere else along the line that I don’t have to reinvent the wheel with you, that’s a help. I love to see if you’re going to have an investment because I’ll make the investment in you as an agent. You have to have a license. You’re not coming in without a license.

[1:00:44]

In some cases, some people start out as my admin help and then they’ve expressed desire to go into the real estate. I like a person like that because that tells me that they want to better themselves. I appreciate that so I’ll help that person as much as I possibly can. My bookkeeper has been with me I think it’s 2005, 2009 somewhere in there. You develop a relationship.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Absolutely.

 

Sandra Katz: You just sort of know when someone is going to work efficiently.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Okay, so you have the opportunity here to tell people something that maybe they ought to know or that we haven’t covered yet? Is there any final message you’d like to leave the audience with?

 

Sandra Katz: Yeah. The real estate industry in multi-income property is a good thing to do. Even though the laws are weighted against us, I would tell you, you need to know who your legislators are. You absolutely have to be in touch with them. They have to know that you’re there and that they have to care about you and what you put your money into. It’s not given to you as a gift, so you need to be very mindful of what that ownership means and you have to stay on top of it and you have to be responsible.

I’ve been in business, my own business for about 18, 20 years. I’ve been in real estate since 1983. It’s a good business. You need to know what you need to know, and the organization is where you need to be if you’re going to be in the multi-income property real estate business, and I strongly urge everybody, who is within my voice, to please consider becoming a member of the MassLandlords Association.

 

Doug Quattrochi: Well, thanks so much, Sandra. It’s been great talking with you.

 

Sandra Katz: My pleasure.

 

[End 1:02:55]

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