Important Bills for Landlords on Beacon Hill
Hello MassRealEstate.net Subscriber,
Good news! Our friends in the State House have filed two bills to help level the playing field for Massachusetts landlords: rent escrow and security deposit reform. We have until noon on Friday, February 3 to get co-sponsors. A strong list of co-sponsors will boost the chances of our bills becoming law.
So I’m asking you to set aside 5 minutes today and make one phone call. Please ask your state representative to co-sponsor Representative Chris Walsh’s rent escrow bill (HD 383) and Representative Jay Barrows’s security deposit bill (HD 2086).
If you know the name of your legislators, please call 617 722 2000 and ask for your state representative.
These short calls today from MassRealEstate.net members will help show that our bills have widespread support among engaged, active voters. You really will make a difference.
If you don’t know the name of your state representative, go to malegislature.gov, click Find Your Legislators on the left side of the page, and fill in your address. When your legislators’ pictures appear on the screen, click the name of your state representative. The contact details will then appear. Please call the representative’s State House number.
When you get through to the representative’s office, give the aide your name and mention that you are a constituent and a member of MassLandlords. Then say that you are calling to ask the representative to consider co-sponsoring Representative Chris Walsh’s rent escrow bill (HD 383) and Representative Jay Barrows’s security deposit bill (HD 2086). End by thanking the aide for the representative’s consideration.
If the aide asks for your email and phone number, please provide them. They just want to stay in touch with you about the progress of the bills. Don’t worry: you will not end up on a fundraising list!
The aide probably won’t ask why you support the bills, but feel free to give your reasons if you like. For example:
- We must fix the “free rent trick,” in which dishonest tenants can take advantage of a loop-hole in the eviction law to live rent-free.
- Honest tenants will still be able to use the law to force a landlord to repair unsafe premises.
- Judges will order escrow only after a hearing and only if it would not cause the tenant undue hardship. They will still have discretion.
- When the case is settled, the rent money will still be there to pay the landlord and/or refund the tenant. Tenants won’t fall behind on rent or be evicted.
- The current security-deposit laws are very unfair. Honest landlords who make a paperwork error have to pay a penalty of three times the security deposit! Judges have no discretion.
- Because the law is unfair, some landlords don’t take security deposits any more. Instead they insure against the risk of property damage by raising rents. Our better security deposit law should lead to lower rents.
- The bill would still require landlords to keep the security deposit in an account beyond the reach of creditors, to pay interest, and to suffer penalties under Massachusetts’ tough consumer protection law if they don’t play fair. Judges would have discretion.
If your state representative gets back to you, please let me know.
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Mike Hurney, Director, MassRealEstat.net
PO Box 307, Marblehead, MA 01945
PS It took me about 20 minutes today to find my State Senator McGee and State Rep Ehlich, call their offices, talk to staff and send an email. Did you know there are about 6500 bills they’re looking at?:-( Mike