Lawmakers Seek Equal Rights for Landlords

Landlord-friendly legislation has been a rare occurrence these past years.

Instead, local and state lawmakers have waged an assault on property owners’ rights, including increasing fees for unnecessary property inspections, penalties against landlords who live outside of city limits, regardless of how often they visit their rental property, and fines when tenants do something wrong, even if a landlord lacks the evidence to legally evict the tenant.

But more recently, some state lawmakers have taken an interest in landlords’ rights.

For instance, Wisconsin’s state legislature just rolled back a number of tenant protections, creating a more profit-friendly environment for landlords. Florida is following the same path, having proposed a number of new landlord protections.

Now, Massachusetts landlords may see some positive changes–that is, if Representative Alan Silva has anything to say about it. Silva has proposed some unique new protections for landlords. One bill under consideration would give landlords the same access to free or low-cost legal services that tenants have enjoyed for many years.

Under his proposal, property owners who fall within certain income guidelines or loan-to-value ratios would qualify for assistance, even if the property is held in a corporate entity. Ample access to free legal assistance has encouraged tenants to contest eviction cases or bring lawsuits they may not have considered otherwise. Allowing landlords access to these same services could help level the playing field.

In another measure sponsored by Silva, landlords would be able to offload the burden of storing a tenant’s personal belongings if they skip out. This law would pass the responsibility back to the tenant, so landlords would not have to front the costs of storing a delinquent tenant’s abandoned property. Under the measure, storage businesses would have the right to collect the belongings, store them, and charge the tenant for the service. Also, the warehouse owner would have the right to lien or auction off property.

Should the Silva measures pass, they would be among the more progressive landlord-friendly solutions in the country today, and may signal a shift toward more landlord-friendly legislation in other states. Hopefully, it is a sign that lawmakers are beginning to recognize the economic impacts of overburdening landlords with revenue-generating fees that only drive up rents, and limit the number of properties for rent.

At a time where a growing number of residents are seeking rental properties, lawmakers– federal, state and local — need to understand the importance of maintaining a ready stock of affordable rental housing — and for that, you need landlords.

With AAOA, landlords have resources at their fingertips. Check out our new Landlord Forms Page.

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