Rent Control Interview with Skip Schloming & Lenore Monello-Schloming

 

 

The Bad Old Days of Rent Control: Skip Schloming & Lenore Monello-Schloming

[Start 0:00:00]

Doug Quattrochi: Hi! My name is Doug Quattrochi, and I’m the executive director of MassLandlords. Today, I’m talking with Skip and Lenore Schloming on the board of director of the Small Property Owners Association, also called SPOA. They recently resigned from their positions as president and executive director.
Skin and Lenore, thank you very much for speaking with me today.

Skip Schloming: You’re welcome.

Lenore Schloming: You’re welcome.

Doug Quattrochi: Let’s start at the beginning. How did you two meet?

Skip Schloming: Well, we met in graduate school in Brandeis in the department of sociology and it was the second year that we danced one evening in a party and then continued from there.

Doug Quattrochi: Yeah.

Skip Schloming: One of the interesting things is that we wrote our doctoral dissertations in conjunction with each other so they meshed.

Doug Quattrochi: Really?

Skip Schloming: We’re now actually writing a book based on that dissertation for general consumption.

Doug Quattrochi: Okay.

Skip Schloming: Not just for scholarly work.

Doug Quattrochi: You are people of wide education and broad interests.

Skip Schloming: Yeah.

Lenore Schloming: Right.

Doug Quattrochi: All right. How did you get into this landlording small property owners thing?

Skip Schloming: When we were first married, we moved into the big house right here in one of the apartments, and this was owned by Lenore’s parents. Her father and I then remodeled another apartment to get it ready for us, so we did work together. It was a difficult relationship with

Lenore Schloming: With my father.

Skip Schloming: With her father.

Doug Quattrochi: Yeah.

Skip Schloming: In-laws can be that way, right?

Doug Quattrochi: That’s right. It definitely can be.

Lenore Schloming: But my father was a special case [laughter]. He was of Sicilian background and he had the temper and impatient.

Skip Schloming: Right.

Lenore Schloming: It was always colorful to interact with him.

Skip Schloming: I remember one time when we were sitting actually in this room right here when this was their living room. Just having the usual visit, and he gave each of us a Manhattan I believe it was, and he gave me a smaller glass than he gave Lenore, and I just noticed it, and just quietly I bent over and swapped it.

Doug Quattrochi: Really?

Lenore Schloming: Yeah.

Skip Schloming: He saw that and went and swapped it back, so it was a deliberate insult to me, and I didn’t do anything about it. I was stuck at that time.

Doug Quattrochi: Wow.

Skip Schloming: Yeah, that’s how it started out on that. He had a lot of trouble managing his units. In the wintertime, they’d go to Florida, we’d manage it then. Usually as we said at that time, he would have gotten into trouble with a tenant before they went to Florida and we had to resolve it while they were away.

Doug Quattrochi: Okay.

Skip Schloming: We got into the management very early. This would have been around 1966 or so.

Doug Quattrochi: All right.

Skip Schloming: It was so difficult that after a while, he decided to “sell” the property to us, sell with quotation marks around it because he put a mortgage on it that at the time was astronomical and it never ended. It was continuing indefinitely.

Doug Quattrochi: Your payments were to continue indefinitely?

Skip Schloming: Yeah, indefinitely.

Doug Quattrochi: All right.

Skip Schloming: I don’t know what happens I don’t know if there was any provision for him to die on that.

Lenore Schloming: No, there wasn’t.

Skip Schloming: Yeah, yeah. Okay.

Lenore Schloming: He would have wanted to deal with that.

Skip Schloming: That’s right. That’s right.

Lenore Schloming: He was never going to die.

Skip Schloming: Yeah, which is how it felt to us [laughter].

Lenore Schloming: Great.

Doug Quattrochi: You were managing his property and you’re paying him a mortgage on it actually

Skip Schloming: Right.

Doug Quattrochi: But it’s in a way sold to you?

Skip Schloming: Right.

Lenore Schloming: Right.

Doug Quattrochi: Were you prepared to be property managers?

Skip Schloming: I think so.

Lenore Schloming: Yeah, by then.

Skip Schloming: We had done everything when they were in Florida for a good number of years.

Doug Quattrochi: Did you find it was your personality that lets you be successful with the tenants where he couldn’t be?

Skip Schloming: Yeah.

Lenore Schloming: Yeah.

Skip Schloming: Definitely, most definitely. He would get into a fight with them if they did something he didn’t like, and rent control made it that tenants would definitely do things that landlords didn’t like.

Doug Quattrochi: When did rent control start?

Skip Schloming: Well it started right around this time. Yeah, shortly after he bought the house, which was around 1966. It came in, and ideologically he considered himself a communist and he welcomed rent control as that’s the way it should be. As time went on, I don’t know whether he actually changed his political thinking but he certainly learned not to like rent control.
[0:05:10]
Because of the difficulty, it made sense for us to manage the property. As he called it at the time, it was the golden egg – provided living, a nice income for them, and a place for us to live, and keep the family close together. But our problem actually as sociologists is that it was going to be very hard to find a place where you could both be together in the same department and not avoid the issue of competition. While there are other issues that came to mind, but we ended up deciding we should go to rural Maine and homestead, which we did in about 1976. I finished my dissertation and got the degree. Lenore wrote hers completely but just

Lenore Schloming: I didn’t get the degree.

Skip Schloming: She got twins.

Lenore Schloming: Yeah.

Doug Quattrochi: Right.

Lenore Schloming: And then 3 years later, we got another one, a singleton.

Skip Schloming: Yeah.

Doug Quattrochi: Okay.

Lenore Schloming: Which was a great relief to have just one baby.

Doug Quattrochi: You were worried about twins again?

Lenore Schloming: Yeah.

Skip Schloming: That became a major source, so we have 3 sons.

Doug Quattrochi: Okay. You avoided the two-body problem in academia, trying to find a place where you could both work together.

Skip Schloming: Right.

Lenore Schloming: Yeah.

Doug Quattrochi: And you went up to rural Maine?

Lenore Schloming: Yeah.

Skip Schloming: Right.

Doug Quattrochi: What was it about Maine that drew you there?

Skip Schloming: It’s cheaper.

Doug Quattrochi: Much cheaper.

Skip Schloming: Yeah, it was cheaper, and at the time, homesteading was quite fashionable so we picked according to the criteria and got a nice spot. It had a lot of timber trees on it, and so we had them cut and used them to build our house.

Lenore Schloming: We sold them.

Skip Schloming: Yes, we sold them.

Lenore Schloming: We had them cut and sold them.

Doug Quattrochi: Okay.

Skip Schloming: And some of them were used for lumber. We didn’t have [crosstalk 0:07:28]

Lenore Schloming: Right.

Doug Quattrochi: You found a forest attached to your land and you cleared it to build the house?

Lenore Schloming: Right.

Skip Schloming: Yeah, right.

Lenore Schloming: Right.

Skip Schloming: We built the house. Originally, it started off as we didn’t want a trailer. That was one option, a house trailer

Doug Quattrochi: Temporarily.

Skip Schloming: To start off, and we didn’t want that, so we built a little cabin about the size of a house trailer. It was 24 feet long and 8 feet wide out of that wood, and we lived there with our little kids. The very first winter with them, we had insulated everything except the north wall of that cabin, so we’d hung a blanket over it, and when the wind blew, the blanket would swing in the air, and the cold winter, we were for the first time dealing with heating with wood stoves.

Doug Quattrochi: Yeah.

Skip Schloming: The house just grew and grew, and we did a private little school there, so that we could teach our own kids. Then it worked out and we weren’t satisfied sufficiently in Maine, and we managed the property from there, and I would have to go down periodically to do repairs.

Doug Quattrochi: You were a long-distance handyman?

Skip Schloming: Yeah, and so we eventually moved back about 10 years later, so that would be around ’86 or so.

Doug Quattrochi: Before you moved back, can you just tell me what was it about homesteading that appealed to you and were you disappointed or did you see things you didn’t expect to see in it?

Skip Schloming: Well the idea of being more or less autonomous was a great inspiration. Giving back to the land, you could have good vegetables and food that were not contaminated.

Doug Quattrochi: You grew your own produce?

Skip Schloming: Yeah, and then for our school, it was useful for all the schoolkids to see a real-life operation that deals with survival that is not shown in public schools, so that was the appeal of it. The problem was it was a huge burden of work to keep up with everything, and every year, the weeds would take over our vegetable garden, not completely but it just something that we couldn’t keep up with. It was an awful lot of work and we thought that we would be more in a good social network and that didn’t happen. We decided you can’t go to the country to escape the city; it’s the very much same. It’s automobile based and everyone goes to the store to get their supplies for everything and few people really genuinely lived off the land.
[0:10:24]

Doug Quattrochi: Were you involved in local politics there? Was there a regional council or anything you would go to?

Skip Schloming: No.

Doug Quattrochi: No? There was nothing up there?

Skip Schloming: Yeah, right.

Lenore Schloming: It’s the town meeting.

Skip Schloming: Yeah, there was.

Lenore Schloming: The town meeting.

Doug Quattrochi: But there were no town services required.

Skip Schloming: We didn’t got involved in that.

Lenore Schloming: No. Just no town services.

Doug Quattrochi: Okay. It was very difficult and you said let’s go back to Cambridge.

Skip Schloming: Yeah.

Lenore Schloming: Right.

Skip Schloming: At this point, we owned the property under that mortgage. There was a big battle with her father. He kept coming up with new ways to increase the amount because by that time, the value of the apartments was going up, but it still was under rent control, and we had to deal with that, so Lenore got involved in the politics.

Lenore Schloming: And SPOA.

Skip Schloming: And SPOA, yes.

Lenore Schloming: SPOA was I don’t know exactly when it first started, but it was right around that or a couple of years before we came back.

Doug Quattrochi: Did you go looking for it and did it just find you?

Lenore Schloming: No, we saw them picketing in front of city hall.

Doug Quattrochi: Really?

Lenore Schloming: So we joined and continued

Doug Quattrochi: You went up to the picketers and talk to them?

Lenore Schloming: Yeah, or you did, did you?

Skip Schloming: Well, I can’t remember exactly. I think you were the one that got really involved.

Lenore Schloming: Got involved in the beginning.

Skip Schloming: Yeah, you went into rent board meetings.

Lenore Schloming: Yeah.

Skip Schloming: And helped small owners who were not so literate.

Doug Quattrochi: What was the rent board?

Skip Schloming: Okay.

Lenore Schloming: That was the board the decided everything about rent control. They would adjudicate rent increases. I think that’s the main thing.

Doug Quattrochi: Were you on the rent board?

Lenore Schloming: No.

Doug Quattrochi: How did someone get to be on the rent board?

Lenore Schloming: I don’t know.

Skip Schloming: You had to be a [unintelligible 0:12:28] advisor, city manager. There were supposedly two landlord reps, two tenants reps, and the neutral chairman but the chairman always sided with the tenants.

Doug Quattrochi: Okay.

Skip Schloming: So the tenants got their way, and the same is true in the city council. There is only one landlord representative on the city council of about 13 people, and they voted consistently on the tenant’s side of every issue.

Doug Quattrochi: Give me a hypothetical. You are a landlord. You have a rend control department in Cambridge. You want to raise the rent. How did you go through the process?

Lenore Schloming: You had to take all your paperwork and bring it to the rent board to show what your expenses were, every little expense and you had to have receipts for everything.

Doug Quattrochi: For everything?

Lenore Schloming: Yes.

Doug Quattrochi: It has nothing to do with the market. It’s all about what your costs are.

Skip Schloming: No.

Lenore Schloming: That’s right.

Doug Quattrochi: Interesting.

Lenore Schloming: That’s right.

Skip Schloming: And how much profit you should be making on.

Lenore Schloming: You can move that [unintelligible 0:13:32]. You have to bring all that to the rent board and have a hearing in front of a hearing officer and he was the one who would decide based on presumably what information you gave him what the rent should be, how much of a percentage above your fair net operating income you should have as a rent increase.

Doug Quattrochi: Were you ever able to say on the basis of your plans for improvement to renovating the property, the rent should be higher so you can afford to make those repairs?

Skip Schloming: Well they have the say over whether you could renovate.

Doug Quattrochi: You couldn’t renovate without their

Skip Schloming: Yeah. It’s just cause eviction rent control wherever it’s instituted has just cause eviction as part of it, and renovating was not part of that, and tenants did not want renovation anyway. They wanted the rent to stay low because they weren’t to hang around forever. They didn’t expect to, so for them saving the money was much more important than making sure the place stays up to their current standards of amenities.

Doug Quattrochi: How long was your property under rent control from the early ‘60s until…

Lenore Schloming: Until finally we did Question 9.

Doug Quattrochi: We’ll get to that.

[0:15:00]

Lenore Schloming: Yeah.

Doug Quattrochi: Decades.

Lenore Schloming: Yeah.

Skip Schloming: Yeah.

Doug Quattrochi: Did you find that you were able to maintain it?

Skip Schloming: Yeah, on a minimal basis.

Lenore Schloming: Right.

Skip Schloming: We do things that seemed right like put a new rug down the hallways, on the steps of the hallways, which is not a big operation.

Doug Quattrochi: Not adding windows?

Skip Schloming: Yeah, no.

Lenore Schloming: No.

Doug Quattrochi: Another floor.

Skip Schloming: Nothing like that.

Lenore Schloming: Nothing like that.

Skip Schloming: Nothing that you would change out the kitchen or the bathroom. Those just remained as they were.

Doug Quattrochi: How many people who wanted a rent increase got approved by the rent control board?

Skip Schloming: Well whatever they got approved for, it never gave them what they asked for, that’s for sure.

Doug Quattrochi: No one ever got what they asked for?

Skip Schloming: No one ever got what they asked for, and it was to the owners, it ended up being discouraging.
Well one trick is that by asking for all the receipts to prove how much you spent, almost certainly in the paper trail the landlord has lost a number of receipts. You’re busy whatever you’re doing through the renovation, and so you lose your receipts, so that automatically introduced a prejudice against the landlord. Then the policy on rent increase for rehabs often was challenged by the tenants as being gold-plating, which was the term to say you did more than you really needed to do on that apartment, so the value of all that extra gilt as in gold, was they subtracted from what they would give you.
Secondly, they would claim that the workmanship was poor, so therefore

Doug Quattrochi: It was too much but it’s also of poor quality?

Skip Schloming: That’s right. Or maybe if it wasn’t too much, it was poor quality and that was another way to bring what happened bring it down in terms of the rent increase. The net effect was that the landlords did not do capital improvements because you never got you spent, and you had to do the improvement before you can get the rent increase. You couldn’t get a rent increase for a renovation.

Doug Quattrochi: You had to put the money at the front

Skip Schloming: Yes.

Doug Quattrochi: Without any certainty that your rent increase would be approved?

Skip Schloming: That’s right.

Lenore Schloming: Right.

Skip Schloming: It was an impossible situation. There was no renovation. They wanted to achieve it. That was the goal but the problem with it was that after about 25 years, the housing was in miserable shape, the rent control housing, and you could go down the street and say, “Well, that house, which looks pretty shabby, that’s on rent control. The next one, which looks pretty good, that’s not on rent control.”

Doug Quattrochi: What determined whether a house was rent controlled?

Skip Schloming: Well the official rule was that all housing except owner occupied, 2- and 3

Lenore Schloming: Family.

Skip Schloming: Family properties, so some 2- or 3-family properties, which were very common in Cambridge were owner occupied and were not on rent control and other properties were tenant-occupied and were on rent control, so the size of it wasn’t essential.

Doug Quattrochi: What was the justification for segregating owner occupied versus non-owner occupied?

Skip Schloming: Politics. If they included everybody, it would never have passed, so this way they got the 2’s and 3’s that were owner-occupied more or less on the side of rent control. The only problem with the 2 and 3’s is if they wanted to move out, say they were in and move out to a single family or move up to a single-family home, their property would go under rent control, so that was a big restraint on them.

Lenore Schloming: Yeah.

Skip Schloming: They had the same in Cambridge.

Doug Quattrochi: What about condos?

Lenore Schloming: They were on rent control. Then they passed that you couldn’t rent them. No, you had to rent them.

Doug Quattrochi: You had to rent them.

Lenore Schloming: You couldn’t owner occupy them. That’s why Jon Maddox went around when we were at the state house

Skip Schloming: For a hearing.

Lenore Schloming: For a hearing on some law, I don’t remember what law it was but Jon Maddox was there with his bag

Skip Schloming: Paper bag.

Lenore Schloming: To disguise himself.

Doug Quattrochi: He wore a paper bag because he was living in a condo.

Skip Schloming: Well he was considered as a

Lenore Schloming: He was living in a condo.

Skip Schloming: What they call condo criminal.

Doug Quattrochi: In Cambridge or was this

Lenore Schloming: In Cambridge.

Doug Quattrochi: Wow!

Lenore Schloming: Yeah.

Skip Schloming: After a certain year, any condo purchase had to be tenant occupied. They couldn’t do it retroactively because the deal when you bought it was that you could occupy it before going forward, that’s what they did, many owners. It lowered the value of condos, made it extremely attractive to people to buy was the idea that they could live in them, so they did buy them at a good low price and then lived in them. But then they had this problem that they were condo criminals and they wouldn’t put their name on the mailbox. They did everything to hide their identity.

[0:20:20]

Doug Quattrochi: Really? Hiding living in their property.

Skip Schloming: Yeah.

Lenore Schloming: [crosstalk 0:20:23]

Skip Schloming: Yeah. Perhaps the end of rent control began when the director of the rent control administration –what was his name? Terry –

Lenore Schloming: I don’t remember.

Skip Schloming: All right, Terry something.

Lenore Schloming: Anyway

Skip Schloming: Yeah, he started to crack down on the condo criminals.

Doug Quattrochi: What would happen? Did they arrest people? They fined them?

Skip Schloming: I dt1 they went that far. Actually I never heard exactly what they did. Yeah, I don’t know exactly but they may have brought them into a hearing and gave them an order to move out, I guess [unintelligible 0:21:01] to do…

Doug Quattrochi: An eviction?

Skip Schloming: Yeah, of the owner.

Doug Quattrochi: Get evicted from the property that you own?

Skip Schloming: Right. That’s probably the big threat.

Lenore Schloming: Right.

Skip Schloming: I don’t know how well they succeeded but it was at that point that Jon Maddox, who Lenore just mentioned, went to a hearing in a paper bag mask, was a lawyer living in his own unit.

Lenore Schloming: Condo.

Skip Schloming: Condo.

Doug Quattrochi: Wow.

Skip Schloming: And he drafted what is now called or became known as Question 9, a statewide referendum. He event went to the attorney general in Massachusetts to get the wording worked out so that it would not be challenged, and all it needed to get started was perhaps a dozen signatures, and we and our sons were among the first people to sign that

Lenore Schloming: Right.

Skip Schloming: Petition or whatever it is to authorize the ballot question and Jonathan came to a SPOA board meeting, showed us his proposed language for a statewide referendum for the upcoming – this would have been for the upcoming election in November of 1994.

Doug Quattrochi: Okay.

Skip Schloming: The people on the board looked at it and said, “My gosh! We cannot give this referendum question a chance.”

Doug Quattrochi: Before we get to the referendum

Skip Schloming: Sure.

Doug Quattrochi: Tell me more about some of these stories that happened. What happened to the Bolognas?

Skip Schloming: Okay Why don’t you tell, the Bolognas?

Lenore Schloming: Okay, the Bolognas moved into their house – no, they didn’t move into their house. They moved into an apartment. They bought a 3-family house and moved into an apartment that was in the back.

Doug Quattrochi: Okay.

Lenore Schloming: It was a small apartment and they had 3 kids, so it was a little tight for them, and they expected to be able to move into the front house and occupy the whole thing. But the front house I think was rented to 3 people, and soon rent control came. I don’t know where the rent control found about them, but they were in trouble with rent control. They got into trouble with rent control.

Doug Quattrochi: How? Because they raised the rents or…

Lenore Schloming: Yeah. They probably did raise the rents, and they had a woman living there who was crazy. She was a PhD, an MD, and she had plenty of money but she wouldn’t spend it on her apartment, but she must have brought rent control into the situation.

Doug Quattrochi: Someone who knows how to work the system, so to speak.

Lenore Schloming: Right, right. She lived there all alone. Maybe she had an adult daughter who lived with her for a while. But the Bolognas had little kids, little children, and they needed to live in a bigger house, but they had to stay stuffed in this small back apartment.

Skip Schloming: So I think what happened before this particular woman moved in is he renovated the entire front of the house.

Lenore Schloming: Right, that’s right.

Skip Schloming: And the first floor, he opened it up so that there was connection between the kitchen area and the living room and redid just everything and ended up having granite counters, which at that time was super deluxe and only a few people were doing it. It was being renovated for an owner to occupy, but for the time being, I guess don’t know exactly why they must have rented it to this woman, and she’s the one that objected because the house had apparently been a rooming house. If it was a rooming house, each room was considered a unit, so therefore rather than the whole front house being one unit, it was 3, or 4, or 5 units, and that put it on rent control, so the tenants were arguing that it should be put back into a rooming house configuration.

[0:25:36]

Doug Quattrochi: Wow, all right!

Skip Schloming: Yeah.

Doug Quattrochi: Basically, it was just the Bolognas who owned the property that purchased it, expecting to be able to renovate were not allowed to.

Lenore Schloming: Yes.

Skip Schloming: That’s right, so they spent a huge amount and lost it. Did they go bankrupt?

Lenore Schloming: I think they did.

Skip Schloming: Yeah, I’m pretty sure they went bankrupt.

Lenore Schloming: Yeah.

Skip Schloming: They eventually got into that house, didn’t they?

Lenore Schloming: Right.

Skip Schloming: I can’t remember how that remember. It was a huge battle.

Lenore Schloming: Right. Eventually Question 9. I don’t know whether they were able to after Question 9.

Skip Schloming: Yeah.

Lenore Schloming: Stopped rent control.

Doug Quattrochi: Someone who was living in the apartment, the tenant there, probably should not have been. Where there other prominent community leaders, officials, anybody else living in rent controlled apartments probably should not have been?

Lenore Schloming: Yes, the major of Cambridge.

Doug Quattrochi: The mayor of the City of Cambridge.

Lenore Schloming: Kenneth Reeves, the Mayor of Cambridge, and I think our supreme court justice of the state supreme court.

Doug Quattrochi: Supreme judicial court?

Lenore Schloming: Yeah. Lived in a rent-controlled apartment. There were quite a few well-off people who did live in rent-controlled apartments.

Skip Schloming: Yeah.

Doug Quattrochi: Why would a landlord, who had rent control, rent to somebody who is very well off?

Lenore Schloming: Because they could rely on getting the rent. That’s always when you put a new tenant into your apartment, you want to screen them and make sure that they will pay the rent. If somebody is a prominent person, they are likely to pay the rent.

Doug Quattrochi: Whereas a normal tenant would have the risk of nonpayment covered by higher rents. With rent control and lower rents, you don’t have any risk premium there.

Lenore Schloming: That’s right.

Doug Quattrochi: You have to pick the most stable tenant you can.

Lenore Schloming: Right.

Doug Quattrochi: Landlords would actually pick people who are wealthy or prominent.

Lenore Schloming: Yeah, that’s right.

Skip Schloming: The general point is rent control because of that and other factors tends to cater to the wealthy who don’t need a rent-controlled apartment, and so it’s counterproductive to the goal of helping low and middle-income people get affordable housing.

Lenore Schloming: And the other thing is there were very few children in rent-controlled apartments. Supposedly it was to help families, but they were very few children.

Skip Schloming: It think it was about 50 percent of rent-controlled apartments have just one person in them, and if you’d have one person in a big triple-decker flat. In other words, the big triple-decker meaning 3 apartments with identical floorplan identical to each other. The space, we had 2 or 3 bedrooms in it, a huge amount of space, and one person could afford the rent, so they will just take it over, so it’s inefficient use of the existing space.

Doug Quattrochi: It’s inefficient use and there is no incentive to renovate.

Skip Schloming: That’s right.

Lenore Schloming: Right.

Doug Quattrochi: You’re not actually helping low-income families really.

Skip Schloming: Right.

Doug Quattrochi: Or if you are, it’s a very imprecise way of doing that.

Skip Schloming: Yeah, imprecise and few families.

Lenore Schloming: That’s right.

Doug Quattrochi: Were there other horror stories that come to mind?

Skip Schloming: Sure. There was the Petrillos.

Doug Quattrochi: What happened?

Skip Schloming: Do you want to explain what happened there?

Lenore Schloming: Well, I don’t remember. They got into trouble with the rent board. I know. They had a 3-family with a basement, so the rent control board claimed that it was a 4-family.

Skip Schloming: Because the basement had been turned into an apartment and they had rented it.

Doug Quattrochi: Okay.

Lenore Schloming: Had they rented it? I thought they didn’t.

Skip Schloming: Maybe not, maybe not. That I don’t know about.

Lenore Schloming: Yeah, I don’t think they did. I think they did it for their daughter.

Skip Schloming: Yeah.

Lenore Schloming: They had to go before the rent control board, and when they got the results from the rent control board saying they had to register with them and had to be a 4-family.

Skip Schloming: It would be under rent control and the other thing was they were ordered. It was illegal to have that apartment in the basement because it wasn’t the proper height of ceiling. They were ordered to jack up the whole house in order to legalize –

Lenore Schloming: That part.

Skip Schloming: The basement apartment, which would put the property on rent control.

[0:30:04]

Doug Quattrochi: Wow!

Lenore Schloming: I guess the terrible thing there is Mr. Petrillo had a heart attack and died after he got that report.

Skip Schloming: A few days, just a few days after.

Doug Quattrochi: Just a few days after he got the report?

Lenore Schloming: Yeah, yeah, so that was terrible.

Skip Schloming: What this makes work the way it does is that there was a rule that I think you could only leave a rent-controlled apartment vacant for 90 days, and then after that, it had to be rented, so you didn’t have the choice of not renting that basement apartment. You had to rent it if it was there, available. That is one way that the rent board tried to block a natural outcome. I’m not sure in San Francisco whether they have a rule like that. I don’t think they do because according to the president of the San Francisco Small Property Owners Institute, a lot of owners simply take their units off the market, which is another dysfunctional thing because these spaces aren’t being used. The housing market becomes –

Lenore Schloming: Smaller.

Skip Schloming: Smaller, and the rents in the non-controlled properties in the 2-family and 3-family non-owner occupied properties those rents were not controlled and they went up very, very high because there was such a demand for them specially in Cambridge, the two universities.

Doug Quattrochi: Because the rent-controlled units are being taken out of inventory?

Skip Schloming: That’s right, and so the supply available – well the rent-controlled tenants, that was another character. They would stay in their apartments indefinitely because they had these long rents, so they would just live on and on and on, so there wasn’t a turnover.

Lenore Schloming: The usual turnover.

Skip Schloming: Yeah. They had to – I forgot the point.

Doug Quattrochi: You made the point, which is that without inventory, rent control actually tends to increase prices in non-controlled apartments.

Skip Schloming: Right.

Lenore Schloming: Yeah.

Doug Quattrochi: Before we started, you gave me a picture of the [unintelligible 0:32:25]. Am I saying their name right?

Skip Schloming: [unintelligible 0:32:27]

Doug Quattrochi: [unintelligible 0:32:28] thank you. Mrs. [unintelligible 0:32:33] is crying there. what happened in their case?

Skip Schloming: I think we were talking about this, trying to reconstruct what happened was that they had an attic apartment. I guess the building was under rent control, and the attic apartment was occupied by a tenant, and they had a house in Concord, but they wanted to have a unit of their own in the city for whatever reasons. Maybe one of them had jobs in the city probably, so they wanted to have a second home. Well, from rent control standpoint, that’s really a luxury for the landlord to have a second home, so rent control opposed them viciously for a long time. When she was crying because of the ruling that gets them, just trying to live in their own home.

Doug Quattrochi: They were being asked to pay $140,000 fine plus attorney’s fees for their tenants, I think is what the document said.

Skip Schloming: Is that what it ended up being?

Doug Quattrochi: Yeah.

Lenore Schloming: Yeah, so there were these exorbitant fines, penalties.

Skip Schloming: Right, penalties, yeah.

Doug Quattrochi: What would $140,000 be in today’s money be probably more than double?

Skip Schloming: I would think well more than double.

Doug Quattrochi: Maybe, maybe four times.

Skip Schloming: Yeah, right.

Lenore Schloming: Yeah.

Skip Schloming: It was an impressive amount of money, and all these things that we’re mentioning is the way that rent control works in whenever it’s applied. Exceptions [unintelligible 0:32:14] New York, there maybe a few variations depending on the laws. Cambridge did not have what’s called vacancy decontrol so that the controlled rent continued on and on and on in an apartment regardless of the changeover of the tenants. You didn’t have a chance.
In Boston at that time, Boston maybe eventually voted for vacancy decontrol as they also did in Brookline because Cambridge, Brookline, and Boston were the three communities that had rent control.

Doug Quattrochi: Did Somerville as well?

Lenore Schloming: [crosstalk 0:34:47].

Skip Schloming: They had it for a while and then voted it out.

Doug Quattrochi: I see. Somerville voted it out [crosstalk 0:34:51].

Skip Schloming: Yeah.

Doug Quattrochi: But the rest of the state didn’t vote it out until SPOA got involved.

Skip Schloming: That’s right.

Lenore Schloming: Right.

Doug Quattrochi: Just for the record, were there other groups or did SPOA take the lead in your opinion?

[0:35:02]

Lenore Schloming: SPOA took the lead.

Skip Schloming: Yeah, SPOA, we were the ones that were being stabbed in the back by rent control, so we had a big motivation to do something about it.

Lenore Schloming: To collect signatures.

Skip Schloming: And others did not. They were living kind of longer, not just the state regulations on landlord-tenant law.

Doug Quattrochi: You mentioned that there was a referendum text proposed by Jon Maddox.

Lenore Schloming: Yes.

Doug Quattrochi: Before that, what did you try?

Lenore Schloming: I don’t remember. I don’t think we tried anything.

Skip Schloming: Well, we –

Lenore Schloming: I don’t think we tried anything.

Doug Quattrochi: Did you go to city council?

Skip Schloming: Well we had picketed. We went to the city council on a very regular basis because rent control things came up.

Lenore Schloming: We picketed before every city council meeting.

Skip Schloming: Yeah, we picketed with signs, so we were very prominent. Stories appeared in the newspapers around even further West about what’s going on with rent control in Cambridge and Boston, but Cambridge was the worst system, so that was the focus. It was really the worst.

Doug Quattrochi: Did the Cambridge City Council invite landlords to provide input to make the system better?

Skip Schloming: No.

Doug Quattrochi: More tolerable?

Skip Schloming: No.

Lenore Schloming: No way, yeah.

Doug Quattrochi: In your opinion, is that what led to your downfall, their unwillingness to be

Skip Schloming: Yeah, actually right. No flexibility at all.

Lenore Schloming: Yeah.

Skip Schloming: When the referendum was done, for a couple of reasons, the people in the rest of the state by slim majority, they voted against rent control. One of the key reasons they voted against it is there is a fund that the state maintains and annually gives out money for whatever purposes to local cities and towns, and the money is allocated according to the property tax base of the community. Well in rent control situation, the properties are devalued substantially, so the value of Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville properties were all depressed, so they got more state aid, taking state aid away from the rest of the state.

Doug Quattrochi: Wow!

Skip Schloming: There was a financial impact on the rest of the state.

Doug Quattrochi: Wow!

Skip Schloming: The rest of the state voted pretty strongly against rent control. It was more than just a – the final thing was one, 51 percent to 49 percent, so it was a very close victory and the people in Cambridge, Boston, and Somerville voted for it. That was like from their standpoint a no-brainer, but it was the people beyond 128, beyond the circumferential road or highway in the Boston area.

Doug Quattrochi: How did you reach those folks out West?

Skip Schloming: Well, we made picket signs and just delivered them, took a pickup truck full of them to the western parts of the state. There was a press kit, a list profiling about 4 different owners and giving the story about rent control. That was distributed very widely, so that the press could comment on it. I think in other cities and towns are being intelligent about it. I guess that was the key ways that we communicated with the rest of the state.

Doug Quattrochi: Did you have canvassers? Did you have people go knocking on doors to get signatures.

Skip Schloming: I don’t think we had that. Well, to get signatures, everything we did. That was a major, major task.

Lenore Schloming: Right.

Skip Schloming: We had 100,000 signatures or about that amount.

Doug Quattrochi: How many members did SPOA have at its peak when you were doing this?

Skip Schloming: Probably about –

Lenore Schloming: I don’t remember.

Skip Schloming: I think about 1,000 in those rent control days because rent control pushed – and any serious threat to landlords pushes the membership of SPOA up.

Doug Quattrochi: And those 1,000 were able to get how many signatures you said, 100,000?

Skip Schloming: I think it was 100,000.

Doug Quattrochi: One hundred thousand.

Skip Schloming: Once that came through and we got that, that was challenged and all that by the tenants. Then, there was additional

Doug Quattrochi: They challenged the signatures?

Skip Schloming: They challenged the signatures. They went through and said this is not a real signature. It had to be looked up and it was, and it was a legitimate signature. We had to get more than 100,000 in order to end up with whatever the number was that was around 100,000. Even after all those 100,000 were confirmed signatures, there was another campaign to get a small number maybe like 25,000 additional signatures to clinch the right of this referendum question to be on the November 1994 ballot.
[0:40:08]

Doug Quattrochi: Really?

Lenore Schloming: Yeah.

Skip Schloming: It was really an arduous preparation to get in on the ballot and then a big campaign afterwards. It was in that campaign that the Greater Boston Real Estate Board came on with support. They’re what we considered the large landlords, and we call them GBREB, short for Greater Boston Real Estate Board, and that’s the only time. But I heard what they were concerned about is that if we lost that ballot question, rent control would be here as a permanent fixture, so they felt they had to fight it. That was a very close call, but on the night, I remember there’s a vivid picture I think there was maybe something in the papers or so people looking at the television camera up in the VFW Hall, where we often met, and they were just looking at that, this expectant smile on their face like, “My gosh! Is it really true?”

Lenore Schloming: Yeah, yeah. That was

Skip Schloming: Yeah. That was a great…

Lenore Schloming: Moment.

Skip Schloming: It was yeah, and a great victory, too.

Doug Quattrochi: What changes did you see afterwards?

Lenore Schloming: There were more building permits taken out after rent control was defeated than it had ever been given out in the City of Cambridge.

Doug Quattrochi: Wow!

Lenore Schloming: Landlords went about fixing up their apartments because they couldn’t get a high rent. They couldn’t get I don’t know if they probably wouldn’t have been able to any rent at all, so they knew they had to upgrade all these apartments that degraded.

Skip Schloming: And that’s the point I should make. On the rent board, one of the landlord reps was a building contractor, licensed building contractor, and I don’t know his method but he calculated based on the data that the rent board had, how much in deferred maintenance and in deferred renovations had occurred to the rent-controlled housing over a period of 20 to 25 years because it lasted 25 years. What he discovered was that the amount of money needed to bring rent control properties just up to current standards at the time was way more than any tenant could possibly afford. Their formula of reimbursing a landlord for doing a proper renovation, it was just way too much.

Doug Quattrochi: The property?

Skip Schloming: There was no way the properties could reasonably be maintained and so they were destined that based under extremely stringent Cambridge rent control system simply to collapse until they became uninhabitable, and so a few did, a few did.

Doug Quattrochi: Since then, people have still advocated for rent control. There’s been a couple of times. How many times did people try to bring it back?

Skip Schloming: Well, at least 3 times in Boston, not counting the current effort and one time in Cambridge.

Doug Quattrochi: Do you feel that the motivation is ideology or is it lack of something that would actually make the prices affordable for folks?

Skip Schloming: It’s politics again. It’s assisted by ideology, but having rent control mobilize the tenants into a political movement that whenever it came time, which is at least once every 2 years, tenants would be informed, here is the slate of pro-tenant anti-landlord candidates for city council in Cambridge, Boston, or Brookline, and here’s the ones you should vote for, and they would come out. They were saving $100, $200, or $300 a month on their units, so that was a financial incentive for people to come out and vote in favor of rent control candidates.
Then the problem was that for the city councilors under these conditions, they had to be pro-rent control and anti-landlord and almost every single decision of the city had some tenant impact that the tenants’ union would tell the tenants here’s who you should vote, how the council should vote on this and that, and whether they voted that way.
[0:45:12]
A lot of the legislation that would go to through a city council had whenever it had even the slightest impact on tenants or landlords unfavorably the tenants, they would get the votes from the general public to support those only from the tenant standpoint. In a sense, almost city’s entire politics gets hijacked by a tenant movement that’s supported by rent control, and you’ll find that happening in San Francisco and New York now and in a few other places that have rent control.

Doug Quattrochi: Well closer to home here in Massachusetts, what’s happening in Boston?

Lenore Schloming: Just cause.

Skip Schloming: Yeah, just cause eviction, which we can call it just cause eviction rent control, the acronym for that, J-C-E-R-C, is jerk. We don’t sue that, but the board members do amongst themselves. Just cause eviction is a variety of rent control. What’s very interesting after the 1994 referendum the state voted in a replacement for the ballot question, which is now called the Massachusetts Rent Control Prohibition Act, which took the wording of the ballot question and just made it a state law, and that’s Chapter 40P of Massachusetts General Laws, and it says there shall be no rent control and there should be no regulation that in any way requires below-market rent and in anyway is critical because the advocates in Boston have tried three times during the period that we were the leaders of SPOA.
We fought and we won successfully in the past using a mailing campaign in each case to the different property owner groups telling them how rent control would affect them and telling them to contact your city councilors. They would flood city councilors with calls and emails, and the councilors said, “I have no choice. I got to vote against this tenant proposal.” With that experience having failed on something that looked like rent control even though it’s called collective stabilization or collective bargaining, it was still defeated, so they tried to draft this just cause eviction to appear as if it’s not regulating rents, but it does.
It regulates rent in 5 ways, and it does it in [unintelligible 0:48:08] ways but it still requires below-market rents. One way is that a landlord can evict a tenant – let me get the idea of just cause eviction clear. Just cause eviction means a landlord can only evict a tenant if it qualifies under one of the just causes, a limited number – a total of 9 just causes for which an eviction is allowed, and none of those just causes says refusing to pay a rent increase directly that’s not authorized, so that’s to set up rent control [crosstalk 0:48:49].

Doug Quattrochi: They’ve listed all the conditions under which a landlord can evict

Skip Schloming: Yeah.

Doug Quattrochi: And conspicuously absent from the list is refusing to pay a rent increase?

Skip Schloming: Yeah, more or less not exactly that. But as I was about to say, a landlord can evict a tenant if the tenant is not paying the rent to which the landlord is “entitled,” and entitled can mean a couple of things. It’s confusing because you just really don’t know what a landlord is entitled to, and actually almost anything might be asserted to be something entitled and you can take it to the rent board and see if they agree with you.
But there are two ways which a landlord may not be entitled to even the rent they’re getting and that is they may not be entitled to the present rent that the tenant is paying if there are code violations because the basic concept in Massachusetts is that if there are code violations, they are considered defects to the apartment and there’s something called the warranty of habitability and that idea is that it’s the landlord’s job or requirement is to keep the apartment in 100 percent code-perfect condition all the time, which is not possible, but that’s the theory of it.

[0:50:11]

Doug Quattrochi: You’re saying this just cause eviction proposal gives unclear leeway but possibly broad leeway to decide that rent might not be fair and should be lower?

Skip Schloming: Right, and one of the things it does is it does something that’s a variety of the free rent trick that we’ve been arguing about for a long time that Massachusetts does not require mandatory escrowing of rent that’s being withheld for code violations. It gives the tenant, if the condition of the property is below standard and there are violations and the tenant will get a lower rent, the tenant can create those violations and refuse to let the landlord in to make repairs, and if the landlord does create more violations just to keep the rent at a low level. That is a way in which the apartment can be considered substandard and the law may require it to be kept substandard and therefore the rents can stay below-market rent.

Doug Quattrochi: Is this just theoretical wishful thinking from the tenant advocates or has this actually been heard in city council? Has the mayor gotten behind this?

Skip Schloming: Well the mayor has gotten behind it, but in terms of anything official, there is no official determination as to what these 9 just causes involve.

Doug Quattrochi: But Mayor Walsh has gone on record saying he’s in favor of the language.

Skip Schloming: That’s right. That’s right, and he even has a bill. It’s not even officially filed. He has a bill at the state legislature right now that’s waiting to be filed as soon as what he hopes as soon as the city council approves. It has to be approved by the city council, and then approved by the state legislature, and the state legislature can override the Rent Control Prohibition Act, but there is just the force of the fact that it was voted this way by a majority of the people that it would be a large deterrent. We have to see, we have to remind people that it was a major campaign that we won. There are other ways in which this just cause eviction proposal requires below-market rents, and another way is that the city, the landlord whenever the landlord issues an eviction notice to a tenant must give a copy to the city within 48 hours. If it’s not within 48 hours, eviction is invalidated. That’s a stumbling block right there because many landlords won’t even know that.
Secondly, as soon as the city gets that eviction notice, the city must tell tenants within 5 days what their rights are as tenants and give them contact information to all the tenant advocacy groups in the city.

Doug Quattrochi: Are these tenant advocacy groups friendly people? Are they helpful?

Skip Schloming: Not at all. They hate landlords, and so one of the things that they do and we have two cases from last year is that they recommend tenant do rent strikes, and that means all the landlords’ tenants or all the tenants in one building of a landlord stop paying rent yet they stay living. A rent strike is not like a labor union strike where you walk off the job, you don’t get paid, but you are crippling the operation of the owner. In this case, the landlord is being crippled and still required to provide that 100 percent habitable housing for the tenant with no income and it’s impossible to evict that number of tenants without income coming in. The landlord will start getting down on their knees just begging the tenants to pay the last rent. Landlords will not go for a rent increase with that risk of a rent strike happening, so that’s another way. There are three other ways, I’m not remembering.

Doug Quattrochi: That’s fine.

Skip Schloming: But there are 3 other ways in the rules that do require below-market rents. What other one is that the rent increase a tenant could challenge it and if the judge – there’s no rent board, but everything goes to a judge under this just cause eviction proposal. If there is a dispute, and if there is a dispute over rent increase, the judge is allowed to decide whether or not the rent increase is fair or unfair. That’s the standard and if it’s unfair, the penalties are harsh. It’s triple damages. It’s 3 times the monthly rent, and attorney’s fees for the tenant, even if they had a free attorney, they would have to pay what that lawyer would have been allowed to charge through attorney’s fees, and putative damages for attempting to do something with a tenant that you’re not allowed to do.
[0:55:38]
The penalties for issuing what is decided to be an unfair rent increase are very high. In a private market without rent control in a standard housing market, if you raise your rent too high, the penalty is that you don’t get a tenant to rent it in time. Usually and this is our case, if you lose 1 month’s rent because you didn’t rent it in the time you had, that’s worse than lowering the rent. But you would want to lower it, so that is the force that keeps rents down from being too high.

Doug Quattrochi: Yeah. Did Mayor Marty Walsh ask for SPOA’s input? Did he ask for any landlord’s input on the Jim Brooks Stabilization Act, this form of rent control?

Skip Schloming: He definitely did not ask us for any input. As far as I know, no other landlord group was approached on it, but we were the main group for Boston. Although he claims to have consulted with landlords, these would be a few rare birds that agree that rents should be kept lower than the market and they don’t want their neighborhoods changing. One of the issues is there’s demand for housing in Boston, so there’s a lot of condo conversion going on, and even just a lot of renovations to bring apartments up. To renovate or to convert to condos is not one of the 9 just causes. That’s another way that rents are kept low or the housing even if it’s a single family. The rents are kept low because you can’t do these things that would increase value.

Doug Quattrochi: What do you think will happen to Boston if this Jim Brooks Community Stabilization Act becomes a law?

Skip Schloming: Well there will be kind of a recession because the value of approximately 50 percent, roughly 50 percent of the housing would be under just cause eviction of the rental housing, and that’s a very chunk of housing in the city. It’s likely I mean it’s a certainty actually that all that housing the moment this passes will drop in value by I don’t know in the neighborhood of 5 percent to 25 percent, probably more like 25 percent. As soon as it gets known better and rents are kept low, it will go deeper. The value will drop even more.
The problem with that is that besides harming the owners that are under the system is that it will push property tax revenue probably taxes on to the single families that are not controlled and the condos that are not controlled. They’re owner occupied and on to the owner-occupied and 2- and 3-family properties, people who own 6 or fewer units in the City of Boston.

Doug Quattrochi: It’s just like in the old rent control days.

Skip Schloming: Similar, it’s not quite. It’s a little more there’s fewer people under it than they were in rent control days.

Doug Quattrochi: Okay, all right. What do you hope would be the outcome?

Skip Schloming: Well we would hope that it’s turned down at the city council, but they may do something that they did before on a very sensitive issue and that’s rental inspections. They may vote for the tenant position unanimously and that surprised us on the issue of rental inspections and there were negotiations to do a compromise that never happened on that, and they may do that here. There is a risk of that. at least the councilors get out of the stigma of being one way or the other with a vote on this issue that’s so prominent, and it is an election year.
We hope to stop it there, but if it gets approved in Boston, we go to the state house and that is a more uncertain environment. We don’t know. It’s also a difficult one for us to lobby, although we expect Boston owners to be calling their state legislators even now to tell them not to vote for just cause eviction, so we are starting a campaign there now. We obviously have to pick that up more, but we need to have it also spread to the rest of the state, so that the legislators are getting some of their own constituents telling them not to vote for just cause eviction and hopefully they turn it down.
[1:00:40]
I say the way you look at it is there’s probably 50/50 chance that they’ll turn it down. That’s the way I look at it. I’m not saying there’s a real chance. I really don’t know. I don’t have my finger to the pulse of the state legislature. I’ve heard some people have said that there isn’t much stomach for something like that this at the state house, and we kind of hope that’s the case. We’re not sure, and Mayor Walsh is we have heard is at state house trying to do lobbying. He was a former state representative, so he knows how it works there and has friends there, so he’s probably contacting them, get them to vote for it. That may be a more important way for it to hit.

Doug Quattrochi: What would you offer to advocates of low-income families as an alternative to the Jim Brooks Stabilization Act?

Skip Schloming: Very good question. What we’re recommending is something that private owners can do to create more lower rent units, and that’s what is called accessory apartments. Accessory apartments are units that are built into the unused spaces in basements, attics, and in backyards. In our concept, you wouldn’t call it quite an accessory apartment, but it includes the idea of allowing a large triple-decker flat or apartment to be divided into two smaller units. The smaller units would be suitable for one person or two persons, maybe 2 persons and a child, too. But they’re inherently lower rent naturally, and one of the reasons

Doug Quattrochi: Because they’re smaller.

Skip Schloming: They’re smaller. The spaces aren’t considered quite as desirable, and the pressure on the landlord to raise the rent is not there because all of the infrastructure is already at the property for these new apartments, new accessory apartments or subdivided apartments to occur as the floors, walls, some ceiling, foundation is there except for the cottage in the back, and all the electrical supplies are there. You just have to have another meter. All the meter and sewer, all the plumbing. The main water supply and sewer lines are there, so all they have to do is finish off the space rather than build from scratch.
That makes it cheaper and that makes it possible for private owners to do it, and private owners will do it because if they can add a unit, they will get a good enough income from it. It’s worth it to them. All this requires is a zoning change because it’s the zoning laws that say you cannot subdivide a triple decker and it’s the zoning laws that say you can’t have apartments in basements or attics, although that’s probably possible, and backyards. They would have to be eased.
Another thing is that the parking requirements would have to be eased for this.
But there are naturally apartments that would be good for people who prefer to walk to work or walk to the T or to take the bus, and they could be built. Anyway, the zoning could be redone so that the apartments are allowed in the area of public transportation rather than in the areas that are farther away from it.

Doug Quattrochi: How many more housing units do you think we could create with zoning reform?

Skip Schloming: Numbers-wise, I mean it could add 10 percent of the current inventory additional, something like that, I don’t know. Just think of all the basements and attics and backyards that have not been finished off in this way. Just think of all the triple-decker apartments in the city. It’s huge. Boston is famous for triple-deckers. Actually, the supply is probably greater than 10 percent, but it would take a while over time, but owners would do it because today’s households have just shrunk from what they used to be.
[1:05:20]
These triple-deckers and similar houses from the Victorian era were built when families had on average 5 or 6 people in them, which would include grandparents and cousins living together. That was very economical at those times, and now those same apartments have like about 1 or 2 or maybe 3 people sometimes, so to subdivide them is really a reasonable way to go and will substantially solve the problem the tenants are worried about. It’s a solution and it’s being done.
I think California has done something for the whole state. Cambridge has allowed single family and 2-family properties to have accessory apartments. They’re sometimes called in-law apartments so that you can have your parents there when they’re old and need assistance and supervision. It’s a reasonable, doable option and alternative to rent control or to just cause eviction.

Doug Quattrochi: During your tenure as SPOA’s leaders, you’ve opposed rent control in all its various forms and you’ve opposed this Mayor Walsh proposal, but now you’re no longer in charge, so what is your hope for SPOA for the future?

Skip Schloming: We hope that the various tasks I did are taken on by many of the board members and that they coordinate themselves and just carry on. I think people agree that we’ve been the heads of SPOA for 20 years. We started right after 1994 referendum started, and so it’s been successful. We successfully have fought rent control in the past, so we just hope it continues on in a similar track and this is not an easy one because people, one of the things that is rather important is to have a newsletter and many people are not natural writers, so you have to have someone who is a good writer be able to edit newsletter articles, and I don’t think that’s yet been worked out fully.

Doug Quattrochi: What’s your advice for landlords who are listening, who might want to get involved with SPOA?

Skip Schloming: Well, it depends on when they’re listening to this message. If it’s sometime in the next 6 months, or 3 months, or 2 months, please call your city councilor and please call your state legislator and join SPOA and support the campaign. If it’s say 10 years down the road and whatever, whether we have a variety of rent control that we need to fight against or other issues, it’s important for landlords to be organized together because as a force we do stand to have pretty good standing. I think SPOA has gained recognition at say the state legislator and the city councils for being a good respectable organization. Some people, I mean many people don’t like it because of the positions we take but we are respected I think, and so I would say landlords should join and be active if they can.

Doug Quattrochi: Join and participate.

Skip Schloming: And participate, right.

Doug Quattrochi: As students of sociology, I mean what do you think about the general trajectory of government? Are there reforms that we should be making to help us govern ourselves better?

Lenore Schloming: Yes [laughter]. I don’t know what those reforms would be, but we’d be trying to get government out of every little place where it’s corralled in, so just to leave people alone more. That’s what I think.

Skip Schloming: Right. Yeah.

Lenore Schloming: To get rid of some laws.

Skip Schloming: That is more or less a libertarian position, and I think we don’t take a political position on anything, but many landlords would probably fall in that libertarian category. Are there plenty? There are Republicans, Democrats, both members of SPOA.

Doug Quattrochi: Absolutely.

[1:10:00]

Skip Schloming: Yeah.

Lenore Schloming: Yeah.

Doug Quattrochi: Well any concluding remarks or anything you’d like to share with folks?

Skip Schloming: Well, it’s an honor to have this filming being done.

Doug Quattrochi: The honor is all mine, thank you.

Skip Schloming: Yeah. It’s an important record to have because people do forget what happened, so lest we forget this is there to remind people.

Doug Quattrochi: Skip and Lenore, thank you so very much.

Skip Schloming: You’re quite welcome.

Lenore Schloming: You’re all welcome.

[End 1:10:46]

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