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LEGISLATIVE BILLS FILED BY MASSACHUSETTSLANDLORDS.COM IN 2013

I recently filed a bill with the help of my Representatives – Rep. Dennis Rosa and Sen. Jennifer Flanagan. This is a comprehensive bill that deals with all changes to landlord-tenant law that are needed to bring it back into balance except rent escrow and lead paint issues.

Over the past 35 years the law has gone too much in favor of the tenant including Tenant Retaliation Against Landlords still being legal in MA. We must insist on several updates. We are no longer living in the 70s when most of these laws were written. The landlord-tenant relationship is no longer what it was in the 70s or 80s and so the laws need a little updating as well. These laws (except the law about public bonded warehouses) have not been updated since their inception in the late 70s/early 80s so we all must push and watch for when the hearings will be in Boston so that we can go there and be heard. For hearing dates go the web site for the MA Legislature.State House 93A Hearing

Here is the summary of what we want:
Section 1. Modify MGL 186, sec 11 to make legal 3-day Notices to Quit for non-payment of rent. We need that because it is taking us too long to reach a judge (about 2 months from the 1st of the month when the rent is unpaid) and we are losing money by default on every eviction even if we had collected First Month, Last Month and Security Deposit when the Tenant first moved in.

Section 2. Modify MGL 186, 15B to allow us to charge for an application fee. Realtors and banks are currently allowed to charge them but we are not.

Section 3. Modify MGL 186, 15B to allow us to charge late fees if rent is not paid within 10 days like Utilities and Banks who are allowed to do that unlike landlords who are required to wait 30 days while being charged by their banks and utilities for late mortgage payments and bills after 10 days.

Section 4 and 5. Modify MGL 186, 15B to make us pay triple the security deposit to tenants only in several specific cases not for all violations of sec 15B. We are not removing what was already in the law. We just feel that Taylor v Beaudry mis-interpreted sec 15B by saying that any violation of it will trigger triple damages including for minor things like not having a signature under the pains and penalties  of perjury or not paying yearly interest which in most cases is not more than $3/year. The law is already severe enough. There is no call for the Appellate Court to engage in judicial improvisation and try to expand it. What it really needs is to be better organized and simplified so that it is no longer a trap for landlords. We just want a law that we can understand so we can follow it. Is that too much to ask in MA?

Section 6 and 7. Modify MGL 239, sec 3 and 4 to remove the requirement that the eviction storage company must be a public bonded warehouse. Since this restriction was enacted in 2004 we have seen the consolidation of these public bonded warehouses into monopolies to the extent that there are only 3 of them in Holyoke-Springfield area and no other in Western MA except 1 in Greenfield, there is only 1 in Worcester and 3 in Leominster-Fitchburg area and no other in Central MA. These companies used to make the landlord pay for 3 months in advance and now, because they are essentially monopolies, they insist that the landlord pay for the moving and pay for 6
months of storage.

I was told by my Representative and Senator that filing only one comprehensive bill is better that filing many bills. That was also confirmed by the President of MRHA who told me that she was told the same thing by her Representatives. It is better to have one bill that covers everything where all landlords can get behind that one bill compared to everyone pushing their own little bills. Agreeing on one bill and filing it and standing all behind it is the way to go in MA from now on. We just need to agree on what we what to accomplish and propose the exact language in the law that will do that.

This year I did not follow my own recommendation and filed 2 bills – H1584 that I just summarized above and also re-filed a bill about 93A number 1585. It should have been included in 1584. It is a bill that asks the Legislature to clarify and confirm that Unfair and Deceptive Acts in MA (MGL 93A) come with the constitutional right to a jury. It also asks the Legislature to confirm that 93A requires actual injury to be present before it can be used against businesses. This last  point may no longer be needed as the SJC just confirmed it last week.  (see Tyler v Michaels Store)

What is missing from this Comprehensive Landlord-Tenant Bill for 2013 is modifications to the Lead Paint Law (they should be added in 2014) and some language to modify MGL 239, sec8A – the infamous “rent withholding” law that in its current form inadvertently (we hope) legalizes and encourages tenant retaliation against landlords which can be easily fixed by requiring tenants to show that all rent was deposited in escrow when it was due. This is the #1 issue for the landlords in MA and there are 7 bills on the subject already filed. I will analyze them and recommend one in a later article.

Don’t be just another dumb Landlord – go talk to your MA Legislator about these bills H1584 and H1585 (tweet this)

Below is actual text of these bills.

HOUSE DOCKET, NO. 2180 FILED ON:
1/17/2013 HOUSE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . No. 1584 The
Commonwealth of Massachusetts _________________ PRESENTED BY:
Dennis A. Rosa and Jennifer L. Flanagan _______________ To the
Honorable Senate and House of Representatives of the Commonwealth
of Massachusetts in General Court assembled: The undersigned
legislators and/or citizens respectfully petition for the passage
of the accompanying bill: An Act relative to landlord and tenant
law. _______________ PETITION OF: NAME: DISTRICT/ADDRESS: Dennis A.
Rosa 4th Worcester Jennifer L. Flanagan Worcester and Middlesex
Josh S. Cutler 6th Plymouth HOUSE DOCKET, NO. 2180 FILED ON:
1/17/2013 HOUSE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . No. 1584 By Mr. Rosa
of Leominster and Senator Flanagan, a joint petition (accompanied
by bill, House, No. 1584) of Dennis A. Rosa, Jennifer L. Flanagan
and Josh S. Cutler relative to the rights and responsibilities of
landlords and tenants in eviction proceedings. The Judiciary. The
Commonwealth of Massachusetts _______________ In the Year Two
Thousand Thirteen _______________ An Act relative to landlord and
tenant law. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of
Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of
the same, as follows: 1

SECTION 1.
Section 11 of chapter 186 of the General Laws, as appearing in the
2010 2 Official Edition, is hereby amended by striking out the word
“fourteen”, in line 2, and inserting 3 in place thereof the
following figure:- 3. 4

SECTION 2.
Section 15B of said chapter 186, as so appearing, is hereby amended
by 5 striking out the words “and, (iv) the purchase and
installation cost for a key and lock”, in lines 23 6 to 24,
inclusive, and inserting in place thereof the following words:-
(iv) the purchase and 7 installation cost for a key and lock; and
(v) the cost to purchase a credit, a criminal or an eviction 8
report. 9

SECTION 3. Said section 15B
of said chapter 186, as so appearing, is hereby further 10 amended
by striking out the word “thirty”, in line 26, and inserting in
place thereof the following 11 figure:- 10. 12
SECTION 4. Subsection (3) of said
section 15B of said chapter 186, as so appearing, is 13 hereby
further amended by striking out clause (a). 14
SECTION 5. Said section 15B of said
chapter 186, as so appearing is hereby further 15 amended by
striking out subsection (6) and inserting in place thereof the
following subsection:- 16 (6) The lessor shall forfeit his right to
retain any portion of the security deposit for any 17 reason, or,
in any action by a tenant to recover a security deposit, to
counterclaim for any damage 18 to the premises if he: 19 (a) fails
to deposit and hold any security deposit in a separate,
interest-bearing account in 20 a bank, located within the
commonwealth under such terms as will place such deposit beyond the
21 claim of creditors of the lessor, including a foreclosing
mortgagee or trustee in bankruptcy, and 22 as will provide for its
transfer to a subsequent owner of said property 23 (b) fails to
furnish to the tenant within thirty days after the termination of
the occupancy 24 the itemized list of damages, if any; 25 (c) uses
in any lease signed by the tenant any provision which conflicts
with any 26 provision of this section and attempts to enforce such
provision or attempts to obtain from the 27 tenant or prospective
tenant a waiver of any provision of this section; 28 (d) fails to
transfer such security deposit to his successor in interest or to
otherwise 29 comply with the provisions of subsection (5) after he
has succeeded to an interest in residential 30 real property; 31
(e) fails to return, after deducting actual or estimated damages in
good faith, what is owed 32 to the tenant plus interest within
thirty days after termination of the tenancy; or 33 (f) fails to
send or give in person a receipt to the tenant within thirty days
after such 34 deposit is received by the lessor which receipt shall
indicate the name and location of the bank in 35 which the security
deposit has been deposited and the amount and account number of
said 36 deposit. 37

SECTION 6. Section
3 of chapter 239 of the General Laws, as so appearing, is hereby 38
amended by striking out paragraphs 3 and 4 and inserting in place
thereof the following 2 39 paragraphs:- 40 The notice shall contain
(1) the signature, full name, full business address and business 41
telephone number of the officer; (2) the name of the court and the
docket number of the action; 42 (3) a statement that the officer
will place any personal property remaining on the premises at the
43 time the execution is levied in storage at a storage facility,
and the full name, full business 44 address, and business telephone
number of the storage facility to be used; (4) a statement that the
45 storage facility’s storage rates may be ascertained by
contacting the commissioner of public 46 safety and the address and
telephone number of such agency; (5) a statement that the storage
47 facility may sell at auction any property that is unclaimed
after 6 months and may retain that 48 portion of the proceeds
necessary to compensate him for any unpaid storage fees accrued as
of 49 the date of the auction, except as provided in section 4; and
(6) a statement that the defendant 50 should notify the storage
facility in writing at the business address listed in the notice of
any 51 change in the defendant’s mailing address. The notice
referred to in this section shall be served in 52 the same manner
as the summary process summons and complaint and shall be filed in
the court 53 that issued the execution. For the purposes of this
section and section 4, the term “storage 54 facility” shall mean a
shall mean a “self-storage facility” as defined in section 1 of
chapter 105A, 55 located in the commonwealth and within a 20 mile
radius of the land or tenements from which 56 the personal property
is removed. 57 The officer shall select the storage facility
identified in the notice described in the 58 preceding paragraph in
a manner calculated to ensure that the defendant’s personal
property will 59 be stored within a reasonable distance of the
premises at issue in the summary process action. 60 The officer
shall not select pursuant to this section a storage facility whom
the officer knows or 61 reasonably believes to be in violation of
any provision of section 4. 62

SECTION 7. Said chapter 239 of the General Laws, as so
appearing is hereby further 63 amended by striking out section 4
and inserting in place thereof the following section:- 64 Section
4. (a) If an officer, serving an execution issued on a judgment for
the plaintiff for 65 possession of land or tenements, removes
personal property, belonging to a person other than the 66
plaintiff, from the land or tenements, he shall forthwith cause it
to be stored for the benefit of the 67 owners thereof. Such
property shall be stored with the storage facility identified in
the notice 68 provided to the defendant pursuant to section 3,
except that the officer shall store the property 69 with a storage
facility of the defendant’s choosing if the defendant notifies the
officer of his 70 choice in writing at or before the time of
removal of the property. The officer shall file with the 71 court
that issued the summary process judgment and provide to the
defendant in hand, or if the 72 defendant is not present at the
time of execution by receipted mail to the defendant’s last and
best 73 known address, a receipt containing a description of the
goods removed or of the packages 74 containing them, as well as
name and signature of the officer. 75 (b) Any storage facility who
accepts property for storage pursuant to this section: (1) 76 shall
file its current storage rates with the commissioner of public
safety and shall not change 77 such rates more than once annually,
unless the commissioner of public safety or his designee 78 gives
prior written approval upon a showing of extraordinary
circumstances; (2) shall not impose 79 charges for storage under
this section in excess of the rates filed with and not rejected by
the 80 commissioner of public safety at the time of service of the
notice provided for in section 3; (3) 81 shall not impose charges
for storage under this section in excess of the fair market rates
for 82 storage facilities of similar quality in the warehouse’s
general locale; (4) shall not impose charges 83 other than those
for the actual storage of goods pursuant to this section,
including, but not limited 84 to, docking fees, warehouse labor
fees, administrative fees, or other similar fees imposed in 85
addition to the storage rates listed with the commissioner of
public safety; (5) shall not impose 86 minimum fees or otherwise
charge storage fees for any period other than the period of actual
87 storage; (6) shall credit toward the defendant’s costs of
storage any amount paid by the plaintiff 88 or other third party in
connection with the storage of the property in question; (7) shall
send by 89 first class mail to the defendant’s last and best known
address monthly statements of the amount 90 of advances made and of
liabilities incurred for which the warehouseman claims a lien or 91
security interest pursuant to this section; and (8) shall insure
the defendant’s property against fire 92 and theft in the amount of
no less than $10,000. A storage facility who accepts goods under
this 93 section is liable for any loss or injury to the goods
caused by his or her failure to exercise such 94 care in regard to
them as a reasonably careful person would exercise under like
circumstances 95 but unless otherwise agreed or provided in this
section, the storage facility is not liable for 96 damages which
could not have been avoided by the exercise of such care. No person
shall be 97 required to release a storage facility from liability
as a condition of release of any stored 98 property. 99 (c) The
plaintiff in the summary process action shall pay the costs of
removing the 100 property to the place of storage. The plaintiff
shall be entitled to reimbursement by the defendant 101 for any
costs and fees so advanced. 102 (d) Upon receipt of personal
property under this section, a storage facility shall forthwith,
103 but no later than 7 days after the removal of the property from
the land or tenements at issue in 104 the summary process action,
issue a receipt that complies with the requirements of section
7-202 105 of chapter 106. Such receipt shall contain as additional
terms: (1) a statement that the storage 106 facility may sell any
property unclaimed after six months and retain that portion of the
proceeds 107 necessary to compensate the storage facility for
lawful storage fees actually accrued as of the 108 date of the
auction, except as provided in this section; (2) a list of the
storage facility’s storage 109 rates and a statement that such
rates may be verified by contacting the commissioner of public 110
safety, as well as the address and telephone number of such agency;
(3) a conspicuous statement 111 that the defendant should notify
the the storage facility in writing at the business address listed
in 112 the notice of any change in the defendant’s mailing address;
(4) a description of the applicable 113 procedures for reclaiming
the stored property, including, but not limited to, a statement
that the 114 defendant is entitled to reclaim items of personal or
sentimental value but limited auction value 115 once during the
period of storage without payment of any fee and that the defendant
shall be 116 entitled to purchase individual items at any auction
held to enforce the storage facility’s lien 117 created under this
section and an identification of the publication in which any such
auction will 118 be advertised pursuant to subsection (f) of
section 7-210 of said chapter 106. A duplicate copy of 119 the
warehouse receipt shall be kept on file at the place of storage and
the original shall be served 120 by receipted mail or hand delivery
to the defendant at his last and best known address. The 121
storage facility shall keep separate the goods covered by each
receipt so as to permit at all times 122 identification and
delivery of those goods. A storage facility who fails to comply
with the 123 requirements of this subsection shall be liable for
damages caused by the omission to a person 124 injured thereby. 125
(e) Any storage facility who accepts personal property pursuant to
this section shall have 126 a lien thereon for charges for storage,
insofar as such charges are imposed in accordance with 127 this
section. The lien shall not be enforced by sale or disposal of the
property until it has been 128 kept in storage for at least 6
months. Thereafter, the storage facility may enforce the lien in
the 129 manner provided for in subsection (2) of section 7-210 of
chapter 106, except as otherwise 130 provided in this section. The
defendant shall be entitled to postpone the sale or disposal of his
131 property for 3 months upon payment of one half of all storage
fees incurred plus costs reasonably 132 incurred in preparation for
their sale pursuant to law. The storage facility may satisfy its
lien 133 from the proceeds of any sale or disposition under this
section but must hold the balance for 134 delivery on the demand of
any person to whom it would have been bound to deliver the goods. A
135 storage facility’s failure to comply with any of the
requirements of this section shall result in the 136 forfeiture of
the lien. 137 (f) The defendant may access his stored property
once, without charge or payment of 138 storage fees, either to
inspect the property or to remove items having primarily personal
or 139 sentimental value, or both. Items having primarily personal
or sentimental value, shall include 140 but not be limited to
photographs, passports, documents, funeral urns, and the like. All
personal 141 property stored under this section may be reclaimed at
any time upon payment of all storage fees 142 lawfully owed by the
defendant. If the property is sold at auction, the defendant shall
be entitled 143 to purchase the property in bloc or in parcels,
regardless of the terms of the public sale. The 144 failure of any
third party to pay monies owed by him to the storage facility shall
not affect the 145 rights of the property owner to reclaim property
under this subsection. 146 (g) A storage facility who violates this
section shall pay a civil penalty of not more than 147 $5,000, in
an amount to be determined by the commissioner of public safety
after notice and an 148 opportunity for an adjudicatory hearing
under chapter 30A. The commissioner or his or her 149 designee may
at any time conduct an inspection of a storage facility storing
goods under this 150 section for the purpose of assessing
compliance with applicable health and safety codes and the 151
requirements of this section. The commissioner may reject the rates
filed by a storage facility for 152 storage pursuant to this
section if the commissioner determines that such rates are not 153
commercially reasonable or otherwise violate this section. The
failure of the commissioner to 154 reject a storage facility’s
rates shall not create a presumption that such rates are
commercially 155 reasonable for purposes of liability under chapter
93A or this section. 156 (h) Notwithstanding any civil penalty
imposed pursuant to subsection (g), the defendant 157 may petition
the court in which the summary process action was heard for damages
or injunctive 158 relief in connection with any violation of this
section. A violation of this section shall also be a 159 violation
of section 2 of chapter 93A.

HOUSE DOCKET, NO. 2186
FILED ON: 1/17/2013 HOUSE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . No. 1585
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts _________________ PRESENTED BY:
Dennis A. Rosa, (BY REQUEST) _______________ To the Honorable
Senate and House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of
Massachusetts in General Court assembled: The undersigned
legislators and/or citizens respectfully petition for the passage
of the accompanying bill: An Act relative to unfair and deceptive
practices. _______________ PETITION OF: NAME: DISTRICT/ADDRESS:
Elmir Simov P. O. Box 485 Leominster, MA 01453 HOUSE DOCKET, NO.
2186 FILED ON: 1/17/2013 HOUSE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . No.
1585 By Mr. Rosa of Leominster (by request), a petition
(accompanied by bill, House, No. 1585) of Elmir Simov relative to
the right of a trial by jury for unfair and deceptive practices.
The Judiciary. [SIMILAR MATTER FILED IN PREVIOUS SESSION SEE HOUSE
, NO. 489 OF 2011-2012.] The Commonwealth of Massachusetts
_______________ In the Year Two Thousand Thirteen _______________
An Act relative to unfair and deceptive practices. Be it enacted by
the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled,
and by the authority of the same, as follows: 1 Section 1. Section
2 of chapter 93A of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2008 2
Official Edition, is hereby amended by adding the following
paragraph:- 3 (d) All legal claims including but not limited to
double and triple damages and attorney 4 fees under this chapter
shall come with a right to a jury trial. 5 Section 2. Paragraph (a)
of section 9 of chapter 93A of the General Laws as so 6 appearing,
is hereby amended by adding the following sentence:- 7 A technical
violation of a legally protected interest alone without an actual
and not future 8 or perceived injury would be insufficient to bring
an action under this section.

 

Copy and paste any of the blogs into your email and send it as is or modified to one or more of the following groups of legislators. Keep in mind some of the legislators belong to multiple groups.

Here are the emails of All Legislators in Massachusetts

Here are the emails of the Joint Committee on Housing

Here are the emails of the Joint Committee on Judiciary

If you want to read specific Bills or to send emails to the Legislators who are representing your specific zip code, then you can find them here.