Small landlords oppose Boston proposal to block evictions in the city

Mayor Walsh

CAMBRIDGE – The Cambridge-based Small Property Owners Association is urging Boston
Mayor Marty Walsh to reject and not sign a “housing stability” proposal that would block evictions in Boston. The proposal, Docket #1032, was approved last week by the Boston City Council.

The association of small landlords claims that the proposed city ordinance is an obvious attempt to circumvent Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker’s recent decision to end the Massachusetts eviction moratorium on October 17 and would impose its own moratorium for Boston only.

The proposal aims to “prevent or discourage” all evictions in Boston and gives this task to
five different city agencies to enforce. According to the association’s executive director Skip
Schloming, such a blanket block to all evictions “would allow and even encourage tenants to pay reduced or zero rent – whatever tenants decide – without fear of eviction.”

The proposal requires landlords to notify the city before each eviction notice is served and give tenants a city-prepared sheet listing tenants’ rights and contact information for tenant advocacy groups — with up to $300-per-day fines for landlords failing to do these new requirements.

Schloming claims that this incentive to not pay rent “without fear” could become widespread and lead to bankrupt small landlords, who will abandon their housing, especially in Boston’s lower-income neighborhoods. Such abandoned housing would soon displace all the tenants, he claims, as the housing “starts falling apart and becomes unlivable.” Schloming predicts that the city’s lower-income neighborhoods “will be devastated,” causing property devaluation, crime, and tax revenue losses. He refers to a similar experience in Lawrence, Massachusetts, from a deep recession in the early 1990s.

Even if just one or two tenant households stop paying rent, Schloming says a landlord’s “other, good-paying tenants” will suffer from “reduced services, fewer repairs, and rent increases to offset [the landlord’s] losses.”

Schloming complains that small landlords have been ignored in the drafting of laws and regulations affecting them. He says his association “is dedicated to policy change and to ending the landlord-hostile climate in which we have been forced to operate for many decades, to the detriment of our tenants just as much as us landlords.”

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