Dear Legislators and Dear Chief Justice of the Housing Court,

I own 45 apartments for 26 years and my blog is MassachusettsLandlords.com.

There are bills (Home Act 193 H.4356 and Housing Bonds Bill 193 H.4138) which try to blindfold landlords by not allowing us to check credit and eviction history. It almost looks like you want to force landlords to accept first come, first serve without any way for us to check the background of who we let inside our homes to live next to us or next to our current and good tenants. It almost appears you don’t want us to know who the bad apples are.

Don’t do that! We need to know who we let into our homes.

You think that if you blindfold us we are just going to let anybody in? You are wrong. We will find ways to further tighten the entrance process and some housing providers will simply get out of the industry altogether making even worse the housing shortage.

Right now it’s very difficult to find an apartment for rent. There is a housing shortage. One reason is lack of building new apartments and issues with current zoning but another reason is that you scared landlords during and after Covid by closing all access to courts for 6 months. The first eviction hearing with a judge before Covid took about 1.5 months and now, because of your 6 month closure and the tsunami of cases that it created; now it takes 4-8 months!!! In other words, for one reason or another you made evictions take longer and become much more cumbersome which scared landlords who in turn tightened the vetting and admissions process to only rent to tenants with excellent credit, criminal, rental, income and eviction history.

You need to urgently fix how long it takes to see a housing court judge!

Now, on top of it, there is talk that you might make things even worse by blocking landlord access to credit reports and eviction records. Even though this is well-intentioned just like the 6 month Moratorium was well-intentioned, OMG, it will f*****g backfire spectacularly. If you think tenants are struggling to find an apartment now and if you think rents are high now, multiply that by ten please. Every action creates an equal reaction in the opposite direction.

Don’t, don’t, don’t do it!

Instead, what you need to do is:

  1. Open up to everyone the Section 8 subsidies to help with the rent just like you are doing with the Connector Health Insurance – the less income people have the more subsidies they get. You do subsidies for Health Insurance but you, strangely, don’t do it for Housing and you should. They are very similar.
  2. Also instead of making evictions harder and harder I know it’s counter-intuitive but you should make them easier just like being fired from a job and, instead, create a Safety Net called Eviction Insurance paid for by the Landlords (just like Unemployment Insurance is paid for by the employers) and provide temporary housing in hotels or similar to all evicted tenants plus landlord compensation for all the trashed apartments by people with poor credit who have nothing to lose on their way out because they already have bad credit.
  3. Right now, it’s impossible to collect. You need to fix that.
  4. Also evictions should not take longer than several weeks. There should only a 3-day notice (not a 14-day or a 30-day) and within a week of that we should be able to Zoom a judge to figure out how they want to handle this. Hire more judges if you have to.
  5. Also you need a mandatory rent escrow in this state. If the rent is not saved in escrow and instead is spent on whatever, then what withholding of rent are you talking about? There is no “withholding” if the rent money is not escrowed with the court and is spent on other things instead. If the rent is not escrowed, a judge must be precluded by law from taking into account any health board reports. That’s how the law should be.

If all of that is fixed, current housing providers will be less scared to rent to people with bad credit which will make access to housing easier plus more people will want to become housing providers which will increase housing supply and lower rents. Duh!


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