Summer 2016
Renting to tenants with Section 8? Be advised: rent increase policy has changed

In April 2016, the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development clarified the policy for requesting rent increases. Property owners using the Section 8 Model Dwelling Lease must submit a written request for an increase at least 60 days (two calendar months) prior to the Lease Renewal date on which the increase will take effect. The increase will not take effect until at least two full calendar months have passed since the date the request was received by MBHP, and will not take effect until the lease renewal date.

Example 1:  MBHP receives the rent increase request in January. The lease renews April 1. If approved, the increase will take effect on April 1. 

Example 2: MBHP receives the rent increase request in March. The lease renews April 1. If approved, the increase will not take effect until April 1 of the following year, as the request came less than 60 days before the lease renewal date. 

This only affects property owners who rent to tenants with Section 8 vouchers. If you have any questions, please contact your tenant's MBHP program representative. A list of contact information for Section 8 program representatives is available on our website.
Learning about lead paint
MBHP recently held a workshop for property owners on the dangers of lead paint and what property owners are required by law to do when lead paint is in their units. The workshop  was co-hosted by the City of Boston's Inspectional Services Department and the Boston Housing Authority. 

More than 90 people, including inspectors, property owners, and property managers from across Greater Boston, attended the event.  "The presenters were very informative and good at explaining," one attendee said, adding he will now "be more confident when talking about lead paint, now that I have more knowledge."

Presenters also made attendees aware of resources that are available to property owners to help defray the costs of making their rental apartments lead-free or lead-safe. 

"What a great event," said  Matt Judge,  Inspector Manager for DHCD's Bureau of Rental Assistance. " Absolutely everyone needs these refreshers as the material is technical and subject to change by evolution."

For more information on this important topic, see below.
Ask an Attorney

For this issue of Owner News, we have asked attorney Jordana Greenman to respond to a frequently asked question.

Dear Attorney Greenman:

When I bought my rental property, the seller stated that he did not know whether or not there is lead-based paint in the unit. I just received an inquiry from a family with children under 6. How should I respond?

First and foremost, your inquiry is a good reflection on your desire to be a good landlord and comply with local and federal laws. Both Massachusetts and federal laws require
the removal or covering of lead paint hazards in homes built before 1978 where any children under six live. An owner cannot evict or refuse to rent to anyone because of the presence of lead paint, as this is considered discrimination, which is against the law and carries penalties. Further, any advertising of properties, including those in owner-occupied two-family homes, cannot indicate a preference of limitation. Statements  such as "unit not de-leaded" are not permissible, as they suggest a preference that excludes families with young children.
Once you advertise an apartment, you should be prepared to ascertain whether or not the apartment contains lead-based paint and to carry out de-leading, if necessary. You may inform an inquiring renter that you will need to go through this process and that it may take some time. You cannot, however, refuse to show the apartment to a family with a child under 6 years old on the basis that you believe the property may contain lead paint.
The best and safest route is to engage a contractor to come to the apartment and conduct a lead inspection and/or risk assessment. While de-leading can be costly, there are programs to help property owners cover these costs (see below). Also, if a child is lead poisoned by lead hazards where the child lives, the owner is legally responsible. An owner cannot avoid liability by asking tenants to sign an agreement that they accept the presence of lead paint. Complying with the Lead Law is the best protection an owner has from liability.
Lead poisoning has very serious consequences, and young children are especially susceptible. Property owners are in a unique position to help keep the children who live in their apartments healthy by addressing lead paint issues in their properties.
Jordana Greenman

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

Have a question? Submit your questions for future issues of Owner News to .
Lead paint resources

Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program (Massachusetts Department of Public Health)
Lead Safe Boston (financial assistance from City of Boston's Department of Neighborhood Development)
Summer maintenance

Summertime is the perfect opportunity to do some upkeep and maintenance on your rental property.
  • Make sure the property is free of standing water. Standing water outside is a breeding ground for mosquitos and flies, and inside it promotes growth of mold and mildew. Exterior landscaping should be maintained and grass kept short to eliminate insect and rodent harborage.
  • Make sure barrels and dumpsters are tightly covered to prevent attracting rodents or other pests to the property.
  • Clear gutters of leaves and debris. If the gutters are not draining properly, the foundation/basement of the home can flood and cause water damage.
  • Trim trees and shrubs. Overhanging trees can cause damage to power lines or block gutters. Keeping trees pruned back from windows also helps maximize sunlight and ventilation, preventing moisture or mold from building up.
  • Ensure gas propane tanks and charcoal grills are not used or stored on decks or porches.  National Fire Prevention Code requires for other than a single family dwelling, no hibachi, grill, or other similar devices used for cooking, heating, or any other purpose shall be used or kindled on any balcony, under any overhanging portion, or within 10 feet of any structure. Propane tanks must be at least 10 feet from the building.
  • It is a good time to review the exterior envelope of the building as well as porches and fire escapes, looking for holes or rot in the siding, fascia and soffits, loose stairways and railings. Review the condition of all walkways and make sure there are no falling or tripping hazards. Also review the condition of fences and outbuildings to make sure they do not result in injury hazards. 
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.

Stay tuned for upcoming workshops

Workshops for property owners will resume this fall. Look for emails or v isit our website to stay up-to-date.

For more information, contact Jennifer Shaw  at or 617.425.6637. update

MBHP apologizes if you experienced difficulty using our website during the months of April and May. We have resolved the technical issues and used this time to also increase the security measures on the site.

We encourage you to re-visit Many forms are available online. You can also list vacancies for free on our apartment listings page. Prospective tenants visit the site each day and are ready to rent. We can help you fill your vacancies quickly--list your available apartments on !

MBHP Executive Director Chris Norris was recently quoted in a WGBH story about the how costly rent can be for those with the lowest incomes. We greatly appreciate your efforts to provide a safe, decent home to households living on low and moderate incomes. You are making it possible for them to find a place they can call home.

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. Visit

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