Talking Points Opposed to 193 H.4138 H.4356 Eviction Sealing, Judgment Debt Cancelation

An eviction sealing and judgment cancellation bill has been recommended "ought to pass" by the joint committee on the judiciary. You can either make a large donation to us or you can call your representative and senator. Inaction is not an option. This time, we also need you to try to engage your renters.

H.4356 An Act promoting housing opportunity and mobility through eviction sealing (HOMES) recommended ought to pass Feb 12.

H.4138 An Act [sic] the Affordable Homes Act contains similar language.

Eviction sealing and judgment debt cancellation would:

  • Create a pathway to cancel up to $700 million of prior judgments and all judgments going forward;
  • Make it impossible to identify applicants recently evicted for smoking, noise, violence or other cases filed "no cause stated" (this is sometimes called "no fault"). "No cause stated" eviction is used when people are afraid to testify or when a landlord can't meet court standards for evidence.
  • Require journalists, law enforcement and researchers get court permission to look at evictions.
  • Cause landlords statewide to raise application minimums for income, credit and other screening metrics.
  • Make the courts hear every eviction twice.
  • Move us away from transparency and due process.
  • Make it harder for any representative or senator to fix housing law in any other way in the future.
  • Ignore the clear alternative: make eviction records like convictions, a protected class status evaluated case-by-case.

The bill is bad for good renters and for this reason we are asking you to engage your renters on it. You should talk to your representative and senator. And you should ask your renters to do the same. You will not be able to screen new residents adequately if this bill passes.

For your convenience and speed of action the talking points are reproduced below. If you have questions before calling, reply or call 774-314-1896 and leave a voicemail, we will help you prepare.

Please act now,
Doug Quattrochi
Executive Director
MassLandlords, Inc.

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

1a. Find your Rep and Senator

https://malegislature.gov/search/findmylegislator

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

1b. Recommendation: print or keep this email open

Prepare to have the conversation in a flexible order.

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

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

  1. "I'm a MassLandlords member/participant..." or "I'm a landlord..." "...living/working in your district."
  2. "I'm ________ (insert your own adjective but do not swear: concerned; outraged; angry) about H.4356 the HOMES Act and also H.4138 the Housing Bond Bill. Can I tell you about it?" (listen for their response; if it's a bad time, schedule a call back.

Switch to email if no one answers or there is no voicemail.

3. Acknowledge their Current Position:

The list of bill cosponsors may have your rep or senator on it:

H4356 Cosponsors

If so, "I realize you have cosponsored this and I appreciate you looking out for renters, but this bill is a bad mistake."

"I have 3 reasons why this bill will make it harder for renters."

4. Share Four Official Talking Points.

  1. Say "One:" The bill would seal prior evictions.
    1. Sounds reasonable, but 96% of renters aren't evicted each year.
    2. That remaining 4% have a real problem.
    3. Whether it's the renter or the landlord that was in the wrong, housing providers need to know, discuss and evaluate on a case-by-case basis whether that prior eviction is relevant for us.
    4. It's also relevant for good renters statewide.
    5. Under eviction sealing, no-cause-stated cases are sealed first.
    6. No-cause-stated cases are the last resort for when a for-cause case fails. That includes smoking in a no-smoking building, noise and violence where a good renter is afraid to testify against a bad one.
    7. Say, "that's one."
  2. Say "Two": This bill would create a pathway to administratively cancel judgments.
    1. This means landlords are going to raise rents on good renters to cover the bad ones' debts.
    2. This violates due process clauses in the 5th and 14th amendment to the federal constitution.
    3. Say, "that's two."
  3. Say "Three:" This is not how a democracy should operate.
    1. Secret courts are the stuff of dictatorship.
    2. Researchers, journalists and law enforcement would all have to ask for permission to see what is going on.
    3. This bill redefines terms that have been in use for decades, making it impossible for the legislature to fix landlord-tenant law any other way in the future.
    4. Say, "that's three."
  4. Say "Four:" The clear alternative is to make prior evictions a protected class status like convictions.
    1. Landlords have to treat convictions on a case-by-case basis.
    2. If a prior conviction is no longer housing relevant, the landlord can't hold it against a renter.
    3. This gives landlords needed discretion.
    4. This also costs the commonwealth nothing and does not burden the courts.

5. Share your Personal Story

Example: "So that's my three points, let me just add: I've been in business X years. I run a good property. This bill will ruin me and others who understandably want to avoid bad tenants."

6. Listen. Talk. Finally ask, "Please prevent this bill from coming to a floor vote."

"If it goes to a vote, please vote no on H.4138 the Housing Bond Bill and H.4356 HOMES."

7. Fill out our Response Form: https://masslandlords.net/grassroots

8. Forward these talking points to 3 to 10 people

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

 

 

Dos and Don'ts for Talking with Elected Officials

DO

  • Humanize yourself: For example, talk about how you helped a renter in the past.
  • Stick mostly or entirely to the talking points prepared by MassLandlords.
  • Allow the Rep or Senator to start by inviting you to share what's on your mind.
  • Learn what the Rep or Senator is interested in, and which committees they're assigned to.
  • Use MassLandlords data to present the need for change. Or share a personal story.
  • Relate the problem to someone or some place in their home district.
  • Ask their position and why.
  • Be even-handed when discussing judges or other public officials.
  • If we know their record, ask why they voted a certain way.
  • If you don't know the answer to their question, say "I don't know" and offer to have MassLandlords follow up.
  • Talk to Reps and Senators who are not on the "landlord side;" you can lessen their opposition.
  • Get to know the staff, their names and backgrounds.
  • Thank them for helping us in the past, if they have.
  • Leave them with a clear understanding of what you wanted.
  • Leave them looking forward to their next meeting with MassLandlords.

DON'T

  • Don't bring up too many issues.
  • Don't bring up issues unrelated to MassLandlords.
  • Don't threaten, pressure, beg, or attack.
  • Don't raise your voice or do anything else to put them on the defensive.
  • Don't overstate the case or repeat yourself.
  • Don't expect them to understand anything about rental properties.
  • Don't be derailed by smokescreens or dodging the question.
  • Don't promise things you can't. Never speak for the association.
  • Don't be afraid to take a position for yourself.
  • Don't shy away from meeting with Reps or Senators who are known to be pro-tenant.
  • Don't be offended if you can only meet with staff.
  • Don't be turned off by a staffer who looks young or inexperienced. They may be young, but they have the ear of their rep or senator.
  • Don't leave them hoping never to encounter MassLandlords again.

 

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