The title landlord is usally synonymous with words like slumlord and greedy leaving many single property landlords (SPLs) feeling pressured to prove they are anything but. However, the reality is WE are needed and an important part of the residential process when it comes to housing, especially in states like Massachusetts where multifamily properties make up a huge percentage of residential homes. But this isn’t about boasting or needing anyone to grovel at our feet. Instead, I am reflecting on the blessing that a mulitfamily is and what it says about those of us brave enough to take on tenants, building maintenance and housing laws all while paying a mortgage and living our own lives. It’s no easy feat to do what we do and still live to tell the story. Why? Because we’re not just managers of a building, we’re also indirectly counselors, social workers and even teachers. Tenants enter our properties with extreme experiences and some none at all and we as landlords embrace it all. From the young single mother who has no clue who to contact for her heating bill to the parent fearful of being evicted due to financial woes to the older tenant on a fixed income with medical concerns. All this and more is laid at the feet of the single property landlord. And we absorb and manage it all while trying to balance the huamnity before us and the fiscal demands of staying afloat. That is the courageous beauty of being an SPL. A beauty that speaks of our grace, patience, dedication and determination. A beauty I am thankful for.
On Tuesday, August 22, the City of Boston will be holding a Fair Housing Public Hearing for all residents. It gives tenants and landlords an opportunity to raise their voice regarding the issues and problems they see and want changed or at least addressed. I’m sure I will see and hear many tenants give their perspective of housing issues which is their constitutional right to do so. However, what I have yet to see at such events is a swarm of Single Property Landlords fighting for fair rules to govern fair housing. Many times SPL’s are ignorantly on the side of the tenant, advocating for them much to my chagrin and outrage. Don’t get me wrong, I am not against tenants but I am for SPLs knowing truth and having the courage to stand for that truth. We have constitutional rights too. The bottom line is that Fair Housing only benefits the tenant but that can be changed IF all owners (Single Property Landlords and Real Estate Investors of mulitple properties) stood together. The laws are ever changing and it’s each SPLs job to keep up. What was legal yesterday is illegal today. How do you get around the question, “How many people will be occupying the unit?” if it’s deemed discriminatory? How do you deal with tenants smoking weed now that it’s “legal”? The definition of disability is enlarging – what does that mean for the SPL? Don’t rely on an outdated handbook given to you by HUD or the city, come and learn and raise your own concerns. Let the city know you matter and that they have a responsibility to you as well. This is not the time to let someone else do your fighting for you. Many of the Democratic Party made that same mistake on election day and you see where it got them. I’ll gladly give up a few hours of my time, tussle with 5:00pm traffic to make my voice heard and stand up for my rights as a property owner…will you? See you there!
Fair Housing Public Hearing, 700 Boylston Street (BPL) 6-8pm