Fall 2016
Landlords provide advice on Healthy Housing Practices

Recently, a series of focus groups were conducted with Boston landlords who rent to tenants with Section 8 vouchers. The landlords were asked questions about how they perceived their role in creating healthy homes for their tenants. The participating landlords generally indicated they were responsible for healthy housing practices regarding their overall property and discussed healthy housing as a shared responsibility, requiring tenant cooperation. Challenges to maintaining healthy homes were also discussed. You can read the full report here.

MBHP is pleased to offer workshops on a range of topics throughout the year. For a list of upcoming workshops, see below or visit our website.
Upcoming Workshops
Tuesday, October 4, 5:30-7 p.m.
MBHP's Property Owner Resource Manager, Jennifer Shaw will discuss how to implement an effective tenant selection process to find a great tenant.

Wednesday, October 26, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Barbara Chandler, MBHP senior advisor on civil rights and fair housing, will discuss the principles and purposes of fair housing law. This workshop will take place at the Chelsea Housing Authority.

Landlord Tenant Law (2-part workshop)
Tuesday, November 1 & 15, 6-8 p.m.
Attorney Jordana Roubicek Greenman will cover landlord rights and responsibilities, including handling security deposits, types of leases and dealing with lease violations, resolving disputes, obligations to maintain property, and handling evictions.

Wednesday, November 9, 5:30-7 p.m.
Pass your unit's inspection the first time! Save time and money by learning about the inspections and rent determination process, lead paint, our grading system, and common fail items that. This workshops will take place at the Malden Housing Authority.

Unless otherwise indicated, workshops take place at the MBHP office, 125 Lincoln Street, 5th Floor, Boston, 02111-2503. Register online or by contacting Jennifer Shaw at jennifer.shaw@mbhp.org.
Ask an Attorney

Attorney Jordana Greenman responds to a frequently asked question.

Dear Attorney Greenman:

I am about to sign with a new tenant. What steps should I take to start this tenancy off on the right foot?

Dear Landlord,

Purchasing and managing income property is both exciting and challenging. As a landlord and property owner in Massachusetts, you must be aware of the basic rights and responsibilities you have. The value of proper preparation cannot be overlooked.

During the fall season, new leases are often signed and it is important to establish a system and stick with it. The following steps should be a good outline in getting started in the right direction.
  • Consult with an attorney to find out about updates in the law that may change your rights and obligations.
  • Screen your tenants - credit checks, eviction background checks, and criminal record checks are all legal ways to perform due diligence on your own behalf, so long as you follow the same screening process for all prospective tenants.
  • Be careful with words when speaking to applicants and remember not to discriminate - for instance, you may not tell an applicant with a child 6 years old or younger that you will not rent to him/her because you know the property contains lead-based paint.
  • Check your applicant's background to determine whether he/she has ever been evicted. If you find that the applicant has an eviction record, it is best to communicate with the applicant and find out their side of the story. It may be as simple as a tenant being "evicted" because their previous landlord needed to move into the property. If a history of non-payment evictions is present, you should review the court file and speak to the prior landlord.
  • If the prospective tenant is an MBHP client, ask to speak with their MBHP contact person to learn about what resources may be available to them to help stabilize their tenancy. If your prospective tenant has a voucher, they can also tell you all you need to know about the inspections process, rent ranges, and how the lease up process works. You can also go to our website to obtain copies of all necessary forms such as the Request for Tenant Approval form, the Lease & Contract, as well as the new owner forms you'll need to complete in order to receive your housing assistance payments.
  • Make sure your property is up to code. Just as tenants are required to pay rent each month, landlords are required to ensure their tenants have a habitable apartment. If your tenant has a Section 8 or MRVP voucher, your property will need to be inspected prior to any move-in. (As a reminder, the MRVP program requires the owner to get an inspection through their municipality.)
Once you have selected a tenant, you will want to use up-to-date lease forms and addendums, if desired. An addendum would be used in case you have specific conditions you would like to include in your lease. For example, if you prefer not to allow smoking in the property, you should include that on an addendum. If you take a security deposit, make sure you handle it properly. Speaking to an attorney is the best way to make sure you get all information necessary to comply with Massachusetts law.

Ultimately, the best way to ensure a successful tenancy is to make sure your property is in good condition, you choose a tenant you are able to communicate effectively with, and make sure all paperwork is completed properly. Having a good relationship with your tenants will make your job as a landlord a lot easier.

Best of luck with all of your new tenants!
Jordana Greenman

Attorney Greenman has an office on Devonshire Street and can be reached by phone at 617.379.6669 or email at  jordana@jrglegal.com .

Have a question? Submit your questions for future issues of Owner News to jennifer.shaw@mbhp.org .
Seeking affordable apartments

MBHP is assisting families to move out of motels and into affordable apartments with our Enhanced Funding Program.
This program assists families who have stable employment income and, with financial support for the first year, could lease an affordable unit. MBHP pays most of the rent for the first year.  
MBHP works continually with these families for 12 months to assist them with resources and services that will enable them to maximize their income during their first year allowing families to  save, and then, be able to sustain the rent going forward.
To insure that the rents are sustainable, we are looking for units in the following ranges:
2 bedroom units at $1,400 - $1,700
3 bedroom units at $1,500 - $1,900
4 bedroom units at $1,900 - $2,100
5 bedroom units at $2,100 - $2,500
If you have vacancies that match these descriptions please contact:
Maura Pensak  maura.pensak@mbhp.org.
From the Boston Public Health Commission

Have you signed up for direct deposit?

Get your payments from MBHP deposited directly into your bank account. It's safe, quick, and easy to enroll! Complete the Direct Deposit Enrollment Form and submit it, along with a voided personal check, to: Jennipher Moore, MBHP, 125 Lincoln Street, 5th Floor, Boston, MA 02111-2503.

Statewide RAFT report coming soon

RAFT, which stands for Residential Assistance for Families in Transition, is a state-funded financial assistance program that allows families experiencing a financial crisis to access up to $4,000 to avoid losing their home or to move into a new one.

For the past two years, MBHP has released a report on the outcomes of our RAFT program. This year, for the first time, the Regional Housing Network of Massachusetts is coordinating a statewide report on the RAFT programs run by MBHP and our sister agencies across the Commonwealth. The report will provide analysis on who is accessing the program and how the funds are used. It will also include cases that illustrate how RAFT is a valuable tool for tenants in a financial crisis, as well as their property owners and property managers.

"Team members at WinnResidential take great pride in helping residents maintain successful tenancies and a high quality of life in the communities we manage," said Carmen Villalobos, property manager at Nazing Court Apartments in Dorchester, which is managed by WinnResidential. "Our partnerships with agencies such as MBHP and the RAFT program are critical to this goal because they support a happy and healthy environment for the eligible residents."

Jayme Bonds, WinnResidential resident services coordinator agreed, adding, "The RAFT program not only provides the funding, but also gives the residents hope for tomorrow."

"The RAFT program was a miracle for me," said Jessica, a recent MBHP RAFT recipient who fell behind on rent after experiencing the deaths of two close family members and helping cover funeral expenses. "I was trying so hard to get back on track and I just couldn't figure out how. I worked and still couldn't afford to pay extra rent. Without RAFT, I would have been homeless with my child. This program saved my life."

The report is anticipated to be released in fall 2016. Stay tuned to www.mbhp.org for more details. To learn more about MBHP's RAFT program, visit our website or contact our Housing Consumer Education Center at 617.425.6700 or ResourceLine@mbhp.org.
Join MBHP for the Ninth Annual Founders Celebration

Each year, MBHP honors outstanding individuals for their contributions to the affordable housing field at our annual Founders Celebration. The event also raises funds to support MBHP's programs and services. This year, on October 26, we will be honoring Governor Baker and Mayor Walsh. 

Individual tickets are available for $250 each. For more information, visit our website or contact Mary Jo Kane at maryjo.kane@mbhp.org
MBHP offers support and resources for property owners

MBHP is successful because of our supporters. Help us continue to offer programs and services to tenants and property owners  by making a donation to advance our mission of helping families and individuals find and retain a safe, affordable place to live. You can make your tax-deductible donation using our secure online donation page

Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnership
125 Lincoln St., 5th Floor, Boston, MA 02111-2503
617.859.0400 | toll free (MA only): 800.272.0990