Summer is over. Why haven’t I written anything in 3 months not counting the post I published last week? By the way, you can read it here
Reason 1) I bought 2 multifamily buildings and have been busy rehabbing them. I bought a 4-family for $15,750 and a 3-family for $50,000. I put $20,000 into the 3-family (3-bed, 3-bed, 1-bed) and it is now ready to rent. I put $73,000 into the 4-family (4-bed, 3-bed, 2-bed, 2-bed) and I still have to put another $2,000 and it will be ready to rent next month. Not bad. I am happy about that. Since this is my main job and not blogging, I had to give it priority. So 7 apartments at about 22K each ready to rent. New floor, heat, paint, cabinets and in the case of the 4-family also new plumbing and new windows.
Reason 2) I had nothing to say. I only write when I have something important to say. There is so much information out there that no one needs any more fluff. If I can help someone by sharing something that I have learned, then I will do it. If not, I won’t.
The Hearing in June at the State House, Boston
I had to leave early so I don’t know if there were many landlords after me but I can tell you that no one approached me in the hallways before the hearings. I chatted with Skip from http://www.spoa.com and I saw a couple of regular attendees from MRHA but I did not see many other landlords. After a couple of years of doing this I can tell you that Landlords are just Missing in Action when it comes to going to these Hearings. Is it because they are doing so well financially (NOT), is it because they are afraid of public speaking (I am also afraid of public speaking but after a minute or two…or ten…or never I calm down. It is not any different than being in court and talking to a judge – the audience is behind your back. If I can go there and speak, you can do it too) or is it because they are cynical and they think that there is no point. (By the way, of course there will be no point if no one goes to these hearings. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy). I don’t know for sure the reason(s) why Massachusetts Landlords don’t go to these hearings (my best guess is because they are selfish plus they lack courage and character) but I do know one thing: If we don’t pull our act together and become more politically active, these absurd loopholes allowing tenants to retaliate against us robbing us of our hard earned money or of our right to a jury will never be closed.
Representative Kevin G. Honan
On that one note I just wanted to also say that Representative Honan refused to meet with me after I repeatedly asked his staff (on two occasions in person) to meet with him. He is one of the 2 Chairs of the Housing Committee so he and the other chair whom I met are the two people most responsible for our situation. He apparently doesn’t care at all about what Massachusetts Landlords want or need in order to survive.
My 1st law of Landlording:
No interest = No political muscle = Anti-landlord laws.
In 12 months I have received only 1 (yes, one) email from a landlord who said they would talk to their legislator about landlord-tenant issues.
Happy Birthday to You, MassachusettsLandlords.com!
Well, my baby turned 1 year on Independence day 7-4-13. I should have written something, maybe just a Tweet but I have been very busy and I am still trying to learn the new social media, I am 44 years old and it does not come to mind easily to me.
Here are some statistics for 1 year. My site is currently ranked by Alexa.com at about 620,000th place out of all 65,000,000 pages on the Internet and about 87,000th place in USA.
Here are the current rankings:
1. MassachusettsLandlords.com 620,000th place in the World and 87,000th in the USA
2.http://massrealestatelawblog.com 850,000th place in the World and 228,000th in the USA
3. GREB.com (Greater Boston Real Estate Board) is 1,215,267th place in the World.
4. http://bostonareia.com is 2,329,066th,
5. SPOA.com is 7,510,843th place,
6. www.worcesterpoa.com is 9,059,078th place
7. massrha.com is 19,853,416th,
8. rhags.org is 20,847,251th,and
9. http://www.newenglandreia.com is 31,147,165th place, etc
and so on
Keep in mind that most of those sites have been up and running for more than 10 years. How can my MassachusettsLandlords.com be #1 in the USA and in the world after only 1 year? Well, I think the reason is because I publish often relatively speaking, I use SEO research and keywords and because I try to provide good service to Massachusetts Landlords and I try to be well-organized.
That being said I think 600,000th place in the World and 80,000th in USA is still pretty miserable. I would like to be under 100,000 in the world. The sad truth is that there is simply very little demand for what I have to say and not because it is no good but simply because there is no market. The Google Keyword Tool shows that there are only about 16 Exact Monthly Local Searches for “Massachusetts landlord”. Tenants are searching for apartments for rent (135,000 local searches per month), free lease agreements (4,400) and tenant rights (2,900) but there are only 880 monthly searches for “landlord rights” and that’s for the whole USA.
So no wonder that even though I am ranked at about 600,000th place and 23 sites link to mine, I only have 24 Facebook friends, 200 likes (mostly thru ads, I have to be honest), 33 Twitter followers, 11 likes on Google+ and about 300 LinkedIn connections. I still get about 700 unique visitors every month with about 1,100 page views but I have to admit that is too low for me. I do rank #1 in Google for a couple of keywords including “massachusetts landlords” but that is no big deal I guess with such low demand. All of that being said I am extremely proud and appreciative that I have 75 email subscribers and I get about 50-60% open rate which is very high.
Here is a quick recap of what happened since MassachusettsLandlords.com was born
Lesson #1: The Supreme Judicial Court of MA is even more anti-landlord than the Legislature.
Over the past 12 months I was also surprised to learn because I did not expect it that most of the anti-landlord legislation comes from the SJC in the form of interpretations of the legislative legislation. The State House consists of many Senators and Representatives and it is hard for them to agree on anything so they are slow to take action while the Supreme Judicial Court consists of 7 people who appear to be quite full of themselves (I have read their pompous writings enough and I am not a lawyer so I am able to say that) and who DO change the law very quickly and very often with a simple majority. You can’t talk to them, you can’t meet with them and influence them and you can’t vote for them because they are appointed for life just like the Pope or the Queen. Sweet! In some ways we are still stuck in the middle ages and don’t get me started that we have to call them “Your Honor”, “Justice” and so on…
Here are some cases:
The reasons why a landlord may be forced to pay triple the Security Deposit increased substantially. Who is to blame? The SJC (https://massachusettslandlords.com/taylor2-letter) How bad is it? 9 of 10
One Housing Court Judge is engaging is blatant anti-landlord judicial activism in my opinion (https://massachusettslandlords.com/fein-follow-the-law-please and https://massachusettslandlords.com/judge-dina-fein-follow-the-law-please-part-2) Who is to blame: Housing Court Judge Dina Fein from Western Housing Court (disclosure: I have had many cases in front of her including my jury trial and I credit her dishonorable behavior by using a legal loophole to go around a jury verdict in my favor for the idea and motivation behind the creation of this site). How bad is it? 9 of 10 but I must be biased, right? (:
A new law was passed making “victims of domestic violence” a protected class under our Discrimination Laws (https://massachusettslandlords.com/domestic-violence-law-analyzed). Who is to blame? The Legislature. How bad is it? 6 of 10
You can’t have 93A without the tenant proving first that they sustained some sort of actual injury (https://massachusettslandlords.com/tyler-v-michaels-stores) Who is to blame? No one. That is actually in our favor so I will give it (-5 of 10) because it is not a sure thing.
Tenants are not liable for rent if they break the lease unless the lease provides otherwise (https://massachusettslandlords.com/posttermination-rent). Who is to blame? The SJC. How bad for us is it? 4 of 10 because all you need to do to avoid this is to have some language in your lease.
Four or more unrelated tenants can live together (https://massachusettslandlords.com/unrelated-tenants)This was decided by the SJC and it is in our favor so the rating is (- 3 of 10) because this issue is not very common.
Landlords are liable even if the dangers were open and obvious (https://massachusettslandlords.com/babysitters). Who is to blame? The SJC. How many steps backward did that take us? 8 of 10
A judge can ignore the Jury when there is 93A involved (https://massachusettslandlords.com/93a/) Who is to blame? The SJC? How bad is this: 15 out of 10. Yes, this is a very big deal and if you don’t understand why, uhh, we need to talk.
So let’s do the math. Over the past 12 months we have moved 8 steps forward and 51 steps backward. That is 43 steps backward. And it is about 90% SJC’s doing !!
5-10-12 Asbestos , $150,000 – claimed that contractor removed vinyl tiles and disposed of them in a regular trash container (My comment – way too excessive, no one was injured)
10-31-12 Lead Paint – 3 Years Probation, 300 Hours of Community Service for giving to tenants made-up Letters of Compliance with fake inspectors names, numbers, etc. No child was poisoned. (This case begs the question – was any US banker sent to 3 years of probation and 300 Community Service for causing the US Economy between 2008 and now to lose 2,000,000 jobs and $2,000,000,000,000 (yes, that is 2 trillion dollars, at least)?)
12-7-12 Discrimination $15,000. Claimed that the landlord refused to take a tenant with “an assistance dog”. When the Attorney General confronted him about it, he agreed to take the dog but he said that he would initiate an eviction if there were complaints about the dog. (My Comment: I really don’t see why he was fined $15,000. We are required to take action if we are getting complaints about violations of the lease or excessive barking or noise or bites, etc. He already agreed to take the dog. What else do they want from him?)
2-27-13 Discrimination $75,000. This is a very disturbing case mainly because the press release done by the Attorney General is misleading. I think it is intentionally misleading. In it she brags about that it is the “Largest Fair Housing Settlement with Property Owner to Date under AG Coakley” but in an excellent investigative journalism piece done by The Small Property Owners Association (http://www.spoa.com) in their May 2013 newsletter they uncover that the Discrimination Claims were dismissed before this settlement. I guess she wants to run for Governor and she is not afraid to twist the truth if needed.
3-23-13 Discrimination $20,000. The claim is that the Landlord ignored requests to fix the elevator or install a wheelchair ramp
5-28-13 Discrimination, 6 months in Jail plus 1 year probation. Again, a very disturbing case, not only because they are now putting Landlords in jail but also because Attorney General Coakley is being caught again trying to mislead the public with her Press Releases. In the very title she says “Holyoke Man Found Guilty, Sentenced to Jail in Connection with Violating Civil Rights – A Holyoke man has been found guilty in connection with the racial harassment of his tenant in violation of her civil rights and sentenced to jail, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today.” when it appears that this guy was sent to jail not because of Discrimination but because he violated a Restraining Order. Using racial slurs is not enough to send someone to jail. (or at least I hope is not enough in America, but the way we are going the Attorney General can indict a ham sandwich in MA so who knows). Another misleading Press Release.
5-29-13 Discrimination, $38,000. The claim was that the Landlord put on Graigslist that the unit is “not deleaded, therefore it cannot be rented to families with children under six years old.” (My Comment: “I understand that is a technical violation of the Discrimination laws but $38,000? Really? Just because the landlord was trying to warn tenants that the apt was unleaded therefore potentially harmful?)
6-1-13 Lead Paint $25,000. The claim was that instead of removing the lead paint, the landlord refused to renew the lease, raised the rent and refused to accept rent.
These 8 major cases over the past 12 month period are an indication of how anti-landlord and unfair Martha Coakley is. She is basically a bully who uses the enormous weight of her Office with hundreds of attorneys working for her to squash anyone she wants to bully. We need to do everything in our power to prevent her from becoming a Governor. The MA people already prevented her from becoming a Senator from MA and now they need to prevent her from ruling our whole State. It is not about the fact that she is anti-landlord. It is about someone who seems to be manipulating the truth and therefore is unfit for any public office, in my opinion. I saw her at a fundraiser for my Senator. When I asked her how come her 93A regulations haven’t been updated since 1979 when they were first written even though the case law on 93A has changed, she gave me her email and ask me to put it writing. Needless to say she never replied to my email.
Ok, so where do we take it from here?
First, I have to say again I am very thankful to my 75 email subscribers (12 months ago I started with 31). While most newsletters get about 3% to 5% open rate, my open rates are consistently in the 50-70% open rate. That is phenomenal. I have a small but very loyal audience. I THANK YOU FOR THAT.
OK, so based on all of that data over the past 12 months what do we do? First of all why is there such low interest? I think it is because a) it is easier to stay ignorant, ignorance is blisssssss and b) most landlords are older than 45 years old and they still prefer paper and pen rather than email, Facebook and Twitter so this site might be ahead of its time. Another reason may be that most people do not perceive value if something is given to them for FREE. Whatever the real reasons are, the facts are that there is very low interest in what MassachusettsLandlords.com has published so far. I have published about 125 Posts and have received only 10 comments (that could be, of course, because Landlords are generally secretive people that don’t like to blab for the world to see because that’s how they were taught to think).
So I will be changing course slightly. Instead of talking mostly about laws I will start to talk also about how to make money being a landlord, etc plus I might turn certain high-value posts into Pay-Per-View. We’ll see. That being said I will continue to monitor and write about the Decisions that come from SJC and Appellate Court. I don’t care who reads it and when. It is just too important and this site is the only site that gives the landlords’ (not lawyers’) point of view. Keep in mind lawyers are restricted in what they can say because they are “officers of the court”. They avoid criticizing the SJC/Appellate Court even when they have every basis to do so.
That is all I have to say for now. I better go back to fixing and renting those houses that I just bought. Maybe some other day I will share how I find apartments costing $22K when fully renovated. Hopefully there will be more interest for that.
Here is what I want you to do if you like this site and the information on it:
To create this web site, host it, etc it cost me $2,865.12 for 2012, so far this year the site has cost me $727.57. My labor is not included in these costs. These are strictly things I had to pay out of pocket to other people. I had some sales of my book and lease but they turned out to be frauds done with stolen credit cards and the money had to be returned. (E-junkie does not vet properly its affiliates, beware).
Please contribute by buying my products from me. I don’t need the money to survive but it would be nice to receive some appreciation (:
I have 3 products so far:
– my book
– my lease and
– the emails and numbers of all MA banks in a speadsheet
Also I have a widget on my sidebar for you to donate. Please donate.
There is a widget on my sidebar that would allow you to have your own websites using BlueHost Hosting Co. if you want to create your own web site and show your available apartments. I have a web site and it has saved me tremendous amounts of time. I post the videos of my available apartments there and ask prospective tenants to submit an online application. No more wasted time showing apartments to unqualified people just because they called on the phone and wanted to see the apt.
And finally, again on the Sidebar, send an email to prospective tenants to get their credit through Experian Credit Bureau and release it to you.
If you are a RE estate professional, please note that I do accept paid advertising at $40/m to be placed on the sidebar. I also accept guest post under certain conditions.
If you like what I do please help financially so that I can afford (and I use that word in the widest possible sense) to keep this site running.