Retaliatory Refusal to Rent

Hi Rep. Connolly, Thanks for presenting this draft legislation, which seems to remedy the failure of M.G.L. c 186 ss 18 to protect renters who are unable to remain current on rent payments from retaliatory evictions. I think one thing that I'd be in favor of exploring now during the current public health crisis, and going forward, is the provision of relief for tenants against retaliatory refusal to rent. As the summer months approach, the state can expect to see a high degree of lease renewal, as tenancy by-and-large tends to commence between June and September, particularly for student renters. With Massachusetts embroiled in the peak of its COVID-19 outbreak, and the resultant high loss of work, it seems incredibly important that, this year especially, we reduce any barriers to tenants remaining at their current residences, both from a housing security perspective and as a public health measure. Prevention of evictions is just one piece of this. As the proposed legislation stands, a landlord, as retaliation for non-payment of rent as a result of lost income, will be well within her rights when denying renewal of lease to a June 1st renter. Such a displaced renter would then be burdened with locating a new residence; furnishing the first and last months' rent, security deposit, and a broker's fee; and moving his possessions between residences. Such a situation presents an increased opportunity for transmission of disease as people and their possessions move around, as well as a source of economic strain on residents already feeling the pressure of job loss. I hope that you consider writing into the draft legislature either protections for tenants against refusal to rent, or some form of incentive for landlords to renew leases, should their tenants wish it so.