The Legislature Needs to Hear from You: Oppose Local Control of Housing Policy

Local rent control and local right of first refusal will be decided in committee between March 1 and May 9 by June 30.

 
 
Google Maps screenshot of the intersection of Chestnut and Magazine streets in Cambridge. A three story house with two columns of large bay windows sits on the corner. A tall sign declares this intersection Peter and Helen Petrillo Square.

A marker outside the Petrillos’ Magazine Street home stands as a reminder of the dark side of rent control in Cambridge.
Photo Credit: Google Maps

Remember the Petrillos, the Bolognas and Others

The rent control years were a disaster for the towns that enacted rent control, for the landlords who operated there, and for surrounding communities.

Rent control was repealed by statewide ballot initiative in 1994.

Housing providers suffered unimaginable injustice trying to do the right thing.

At the house above, for instance, landlord Peter Petrillo was ordered by the rent control board to jack up this house at his expense to create a fourth basement unit he didn't want. Peter died of a heart attack within days.

 
 

A picture of a court case. It reads Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Department of the Trial Court, Superior Court, Suffolk Superior Court. MassLandlords, Inc. petitioner v. Department of Housing and Community Development, respondent.

Landlords Don't Want It, and Neither Should Renters

Cambridge, Boston and Brookline had local rent control. Only 12% of renters in controlled units were renters of color, despite 24% of those communities being residents of color.

When rent control was repealed, the number of renters of color in formerly controlled housing doubled.

Landlords who could only charge so much held their units vacant waiting for the perfect applicant.

In America and Massachusetts no less we have an unfair Black-white gap in four key metrics:

  • income
  • credit
  • eviction history
  • convictions

Even in a state with strong protections against personal racism, rent control inadvertently worsened systemic racism.

MassLandlords is currently in court with the Department of Housing and Community Development unrelated to rent control but laser-focused on equal housing opportunity. We're serious about this.

What could be more exclusionary than a rent-controlled anti-displacement zone? Single family zoning itself.

 
 
Screenshot of the MAPC zoning atlas showing huge swaths of what people think of as dense parts of the state that do not allow 2+ units on a lot. More than half of Boston is now effectively single family.

The MAPC Zoning Atlas shows that huge swaths of areas perceived as dense no longer allow creation or restoration of 2+ units on a single lot (brown), even with special permission. More than half of Boston is now effectively single family.

Let Us Build More Housing!

Most of the state is zoned single family. Even if a lot is theoretically able to be a duplex, setbacks, minimum lot sizes and floor area ratios prevent us doing our job.

California, Oregon and Minneapolis have all taken dramatic action to permit "gentle density." Without changing the look and feel of neighborhoods, they will now permit landlords to operate more rental housing, increase supply and stabilize rents through market forces.

Plus, many Bay Staters of color who cannot afford to buy a home will be able to find new opportunity with zoning reform.

Many housing regulations are sensible and necessary. Local control of housing policy is neither.

 
 

Take Action

We need your help. Pick one or more:

Read and Call

Read the bill text, see bill numbers and call your Representative and Senator. Ask them to write the Joint Committee on Housing to stop local control of housing policy.

Donate

We depend on membership dues and voluntary Property Rights Support donations to operate.

Gather Signatures

We're ready with an anti-discrimination lawsuit to stop rent control, but we will pull out all the stops including a referendum if necessary. 

6 Responses to The Legislature Needs to Hear from You: Oppose Local Control of Housing Policy

  1. MaryAnn Kauppila says:

    Why don’t you tell us Landlords what the Bill Numbers are??? Also, should we send hard copy letters, phone calls, emails or what?? You must know what the Bill Numbers are if you are telling landlords to help out.

    Who do we contact? our local representatives or state rep?? You need to give more information as to who we are to contact and what to say……

  2. Avery Clements says:

    I am a landlord. I am not for rent control but the prices need to fall. Here in Lynn, the prices are not affordable to anyone.
    Something has to be done.
    I live in an urban area. I do not want single-family plots being changed or accommodated to duplexes etc.
    Rents need to come down.

    The author has a pretty shitty racist opinion and is spewing lies and nonexistent facts… to quote
    “In America and Massachusetts no less we have an unfair Black-white gap in four key metrics:

    income
    credit
    eviction history
    convictions

    Plus, many Bay Staters of color who cannot afford to buy a home will be able to find new opportunities with zoning reform.”

    2022 most POC/Immigrants are buying homes, are landlords and are productive (yes gasp) members of society.

    Housing is so expensive now that a family with professional or trained careers cannot afford rent….sec 8 covers the rent for the lower income(which many landlords love–since THEY can jack up the rent) and make it unafforable.

    We need reform across the board and please stop insulting POC. I am one and I own many properties and my family has for centuries. We are as pathetic as you think!

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