SOSMass

Save Our State of Massachusetts

Another attack on landlords

Many don’t realize how the laws in Massachusetts, never mind the courts skewing everything against landlords, are actually hurting the tenants, permanently, and for  the long run.  There is story after story of landlords, once burnt so severely by bad tenants and a court system that facilitates them, abandoning being landlords forever.  Those that, for whatever reason, can’t get out, become so fearful of perspective tenants due to the lack of recourse with bad ones, that some otherwise quite eligible tenants are turned away because it is becoming more and more dangerous to take any risk with a less than perfect tenant, credit or otherwise.  The way Massachusetts laws and courts treat landlords is crippling and financially devastating for many, but will ultimately be the demise of choices and options for the tenants they purport to be ‘protecting’ as fewer and fewer landlords survive.  While the shrinking pool of landlords inevitably puts upward pressure on rental prices, the anti landlord, pro tenant forces combine to make it all the more difficult for tenants with anything less the perfect credit or references to qualify as tenants.  This at a time when more people than usual are losing their houses to foreclosures and unemployment, and need a place to live as they rebuild their lives.

Here is but another assault on anyone who might want to rent their property while being unable to sell in this market, or the investor who relies on the income from his or her real estate to pay their mortgage or put food on the table:

Boston to debate licensing of landlords
Important: Contact your city councilors

This email urges you to contact your city councilors as well as attend the hearing regarding a Boston City Council proposal that would require EVERY Boston landlord (with a few exceptions) to get a license before they can rent any unit.

Licensing would mean an inspection to ensure that each and every unit meets the state sanitary code and building code. Code-perfect apartments are the alleged goal. The license pertains to a rental unit, not to a building or an owner.

This would be a huge and invasive program. It would have serious consequences on the housing market in Boston.

This Hearing is this coming Wednesday, July 6

From 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.

In the Boston City Council chamber, Fifth floor, Boston City Hall.

It is important to have landlords at this hearing to know what is being proposed and to show there is serious opposition to it. It is also important to have a large number of landlords contacting the city councilors and expressing their opposition directly to each one. See contact information below

You do not have to speak at the hearing, but as many landlords as possible should speak in opposition to it

Below are some of the arguments against this licensing proposal. Feel free to use them when you call, write or speak.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Click on this link to display a page with all the City Councilors on it: http://www.cityofboston.gov/citycouncil/ Click on each Councilor for their contact information.

Goal is to deal with “nuisance properties” in Boston

Licensing does not help with goal


The alleged reason for proposing licensing of all rental units is to deal with “nuisance properties” in the city, those buildings where there is ongoing criminal activity, unruly tenants, and noisy parties.
The criminal activity is usually drug-dealing and prostitution.Because eviction is so costly and difficult in this state, landlords of these properties take a hands-off approach and do not evict the troublesome tenants.Licensing of all landlords would do nothing to help solve the problem of “nuisance or problem properties.” A rent escrow law for Massachusetts, however, would substantially help to solve the problem. Read on!

Mayor Menino targets “problem properties”

Several proposals from mayor


Besides the licensing proposal made by three city councilors, Mayor Menino has established a “Problem Properties Task Force” to develop policies and procedures for handling problem properties. That’s an acceptable step to take. It is targeted to problem properties only.
Menino also wants City Council approval to charge landlords for the cost of any police surveillance and details that must be used to monitor chronic “problem properties.” This is not a great idea. We taxpayers already pay for police. But at least the focus is on those few problem properties that exist.Finally, Menino wants to impose fines on unruly tenants AND on their landlords. The fines would be $300 per violation per day. If a landlord does not pay the fine, the city will take his/her property by foreclosure. Fining landlords for tenant misbehavior is not a good idea. But at least the focus is on problem properties.
Licensing would have serious consequences

A terrible idea


The goal of licensing landlords would be to inspect all apartments every two years and make them code-perfect. The inspection and licensing requirement would apply to all non-owner-occupied buildings and to all four-unit and larger owner-occupied buildings. Only two- and three-family owner-occupied buildings would be exempt.
This licensing proposal would do nothing helpful with problem properties. The problem in problem properties is the tenants, not the physical apartments.Meanwhile, licensing would bring many serious, negative side effects.For many landlords, bringing their units up to code would be a nuisance, but not a serious problem. Most apartments have a few code violations just from ordinary wear and tear.

For many landlords, however, especially landlords in low-income neighborhoods, bringing their units up to code would be difficult. There would be more code violations in lower-rent buildings, but less rental income to fix them. As a result of fixing code violations, rents would have to be raised. Many tenants in these already tough times will be further squeezed by rent increases.

A good number of apartments where there are more serious code violations and where tenants cannot afford higher rents will be shut down by the inspections, reducing the supply of lower-rent apartments and making poor tenants homeless. When owners and tenants cannot afford the repairs required, abandoned housing would be the result. These rental units need to be occupied and producing income while the owners gradually resolve serious code violation issues.

Many technically “illegal” apartments — such as basement or attic apartments that have been put in without zoning approval — would be discovered and shut down, again reducing the supply of lower-rent housing and making many lower-income tenants homeless. “Illegal” apartments should be legalized as much as possible, not shut down.

Inspecting all apartments would require a massive new bureaucracy to accomplish the goal — at a time when all levels of government are experiencing financial difficulties due to overextended governments and the poor economy.

A rent escrow law would help end problem properties

The real problem is eviction difficulties


The problem with problem properties is that owners cannot easily evict the problem tenants. In this state, eviction is very costly. In most cases, an eviction notice brings an end to all rent payments and a start to the free rent trick.
Facing such high costs, owners avoid evictions as much as possible. They would rather ignore the problems that their tenants are causing in the neighborhood.A rent escrow law would end the free rent trick, reduce the cost of evictions, and landlords would much more often decide they need to evict troublesome tenants.Rent escrow would cost nothing to the government, local or state. It is simply a regulatory change. In fact, it would increase property tax revenues because money going into evictions now would be saved and would be used to fix up properties and increase their value for tax purposes.

Action is how we will succeed!

Please join us in this effort.


Together we will win!
Lenore Schloming
SPOA President
spoa@spoa.com
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