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My Written Testimony for the 01-11-22 Hearing on 20 proposed landlord-tenant bills MA

I would think alerts like this about proposed landlord tenant bills MA we should get from MassLandlords or SPOA but I got them from attorney Richard Vetstein who is not a landlord association. Here is his link: http://massrealestatelawblog.com/2022/01/06/joint-housing-committee-to-hear-controversial-housing-stability-act-rent-control-and-other-tenant-protection-bills-on-jan-11/.

It’s too late to register to testify in person but if you want you can send a written testimony to luke.oroark@mahouse.gov by 01-21-22.

Here is mine:

“My name is Elmir Simov. I own and manage 45 apartments. I have had over 200 tenants over my 24 years of being a housing provider. In 2012 I founded MassachusettsLandlords.com which is currently one of the most popular landlord-tenant blogs in MA.

I am a Liberal Democrat just like the people who are proposing these bills. Just like them I also believe in fewer evictions, less homelessness and protecting the socially weak. I even supported the Eviction Moratorium during Covid as long as it was properly funded where the landlords get paid within a week by the State in cases where the tenants could not pay due to Covid. The difference between us is my 24 yr landlord experience. I have a different perspective.

It is clear that the creators of most of these bills believe that the way to achieve all these things is to make evictions and being a housing provider harder – they propose rent control to be brought back even though there are enough studies showing that rent control creates less housing not more, they propose eviction sealing so landlords cannot see the eviction history of whoever they are letting into their homes, bills H1429 and S894 even go so far as to propose that landlords should not be allowed to check credit to find out if the applicant pays their bills on time so that repeat offenders can have easier access to housing combined with making it harder to evict them, of course, all at the expense of the housing providers, they propose that a landlord has to give a 6-months notice before being allowed to start an eviction if they want to move back into their own property, they propose that landlords pay 3 rents to the tenant as “relocation cost”, they propose $5000 fines and penalties for this and that, they propose everything to become a 93A violation and come with attorney fees, they refuse to allow mandatory rent escrow, they make landlords send the Notice to Quit and extra notices to the town, state agencies and the tenants, they propose landlords send notices to the tenants containing the numbers to free lawyers and agencies who make evictions even harder, they propose tenants to pay security deposits in 6 installments and if they skip an installment good luck evicting them, they propose legalizing the so called “just cause” evictions where you cannot evict for any violation of the lease but is has to be “just” and significant, they propose tenants to pay Last Month or a Security deposit but not both, they want to provide free lawyers to all tenants after already requiring any landlord with a Trust or an LLC to hire a lawyer, they want to give tenants a right of first refusal to make it impossible to sell our properties in a timely fashion and so on and so on. Last year those same people closed the courts for 6 months which created a tsunami of evictions after the courts had to be opened at some point and predictably clogged Housing Court so that before it used to take 1 month to reach a judge and now it takes 5 months (no, that’s not an exaggeration, that comes from actual experience). Basically they believe that what needs to be done is anything that makes evictions so hard that they are almost impossible. That way, they believe, they will lower evictions, rents, homelessness and protect the socially weak.

Their heart is in the right place but it’s so funny because they are doing exactly the opposite of what should be done. If you want to lower evictions, rents, homelessness and protect the socially weak what you should be doing is making evictions easier not harder. I know it’s counterintuitive but hear me out:

The harder you make evictions the harder it becomes to find an apartment because landlords are afraid that once you rent to somebody it’s almost impossible to evict them so they tighten and tighten their standards because they feel they cannot afford to make a mistake. I used to take people with credit scores in the 600s, now I only take people in the 700s and that applies to all adults renting. If one of them is 800 and the other is 600, tough luck. I used to take co-signers but no more. I used to take people with income of at least twice the rent now I ask for more. I used to allow people with no rental history if their credit was OK, now I have to see 12 most recent rental payments being paid on time. I used to forgive old evictions but no more. And my rents went up and the rents of all landlords went up to compensate for the uncertainly and the evictions getting harder and harder. As a result many people cannot find affordable and available apartments in MA. This is YOUR doing (the Legislature of MA) not ours (the housing providers) because for every force in one direction there is an equal force in the opposite direction.

It is time that MA creates Eviction Insurance paid for by the Landlords of MA as a tax just like we have Unemployment Insurance paid for by the Employers of MA. Everybody knows not to tinker with the “at will” employment because the harder you make firing people the harder you make for the Economy to function. Right now you can be fired at any time for any reason or no reason at all as long as it is not for discriminatory reasons with or without a notice. It should be similar with evictions. Evictions should be easy but in exchange create a proper safety net, create this Eviction Insurance which will pay for 6 months or so at a motel so that the family can bounce back. It can also pay for other things. It’s a matter of future discussions.

But instead of doing that, the constant drumbeat over the past 30-40 years and especially the past couple of years has been to make evictions and being a landlord harder and harder which raises rents, creates less available used and new housing and discourages people from becoming housing providers.”

Respectfully,

Elmir Simov

e@massachusettslandlords.com

www.MassachusettsLandlords.com