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Free 15-minute consultation for qualified landlords through our One-on-One Legal Advice program
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WHAT WE OFFER
WHO WE ARE
The Volunteer Lawyers Project’s Landlord Advocacy Program is a team of attorneys, paralegals, and law students from all segments of the community working together to serve low-income small landlords throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
WHEN OUR WORK BEGAN
In October 2020, the Volunteer Lawyers Project joined the statewide Eviction Diversion Initiative’s COVID Eviction Legal Help Project (CELHP for short). Now, under a new Eviction Legal Aid grant, this project’s purpose is to continue helping low-income small landlords facing a housing crisis by providing high-quality assistance. Read more.
SERVICES AND PROGRAMS
- Free Legal Assistance
- One-on-One legal advice
- A 15-minute consultation with a lawyer
- One-on-One legal advice
- Financial Assistance Application Support (FAAS)
- Get money to cover your tenant’s unpaid rent
- Get money to pay for your mortgage payments
- Financial assistance through state funded HAF programs
- Educational Materials and Resources (or scroll down for the resources library)
- 100% free landlord resources
- Eviction process:
- Navigating the Notice to Quit (NTQ)
- Obligations of Being a Landlord
- Educational webinars/clinics (upcoming)
- Limited Assistance (LAR)
- Intake on a case-by-case basis
VLP helped this low-income landlord who relies on the receipt of rent in order to pay her mortgage and bills and keep her property in good repair. She is the owner of a three-family home in Malden; she lives in one of the units, so her tenants are her neighbors. One of the tenants has not paid any rent in almost a year. Our client does not speak English proficiently, and VLP had to guide her through the summary process for several months with the assistance of an interpreter.
Outcome: Despite the challenges, eventually, the landlord could evict her non-paying tenant successfully after VLP took her case.
“I will always pray to God for this [VLP] team of people I have never seen in person but have walked with me until the end. It is not just because of the money that you saved me. I wanted them to hear my cries and my affliction of injustice.”
The Landlord Advocacy team has been handling a Landlord client and her Tenant’s RAFT application for over five months. The case was closed twice, and the team had to re-open the application each time. The Tenant ended up moving out, and the last rejection was due to this. As the RAA puts it, no Tenant, no payment. The Landlord team resubmitted a request to review.
Outcome: Although there was no direct response to the review request, the RAA re-opened the case and ultimately paid our landlord client.
Our client is a 48-year old Spanish-speaking landlord. Her husband, who spoke English and handled all communications, recently left the relationship leaving her to deal with the process alone. She felt intimidated, frustrated, and confused.
The client’s tenant owed her $14,000 in rent arrears. She had tried unsuccessfully to get her tenant to apply for RAFT. To make matters worse, not only did the tenant smoke inside the unit when they were not supposed to, they would not allow our client access to do repairs. Our client ended up owing over $20,000 on her mortgage payments. She did not know there was assistance for landlords but was relieved when she was put in touch with a VLP bilingual staff member.
Outcome: Since VLP began representing the client, she was awarded $10,000 for mortgage payments and $18,000 in rental arrears. The tenant did not abide by the agreement until a call was made to their attorney. The tenant has since allowed our client to make necessary renovations and repairs. The client is relieved, knowing she will not lose her home.
Another small win is a case about a 47-year-old English speaking landlord. The client had a status conference scheduled about a week prior to seeking VLP’s assistance. There was no new scheduled court date until recently. VLP repeatedly called the clerk’s office to ask about when a new court event will be scheduled. Finally, a clerk told to file an NOA to speed up the rescheduled court date.
Outcome: VLP immediately filed an NOA and was able to get a scheduled court event for the client within a week. If this client did not come to VLP for assistance, he may still be waiting for a court date.
Tenant had not paid rent. There were regular visits from police regarding behavior of tenant and tenant’s threats to the landlord that he did not have to leave or pay rent. Meanwhile, Tenant was damaging the property, which was confirmed by the Board of Health. Landlord called VLP. Police told her to keep working with VLP.
Outcome: The Board of Health congratulated her when the tenant finally moved out and she was able to make the repairs. All resulted without a need for court action.
Landlord lives in a duplex with her mother and the Tenant and her family live in the other apartment. After Tenant fell behind in rent, she called the Housing Inspection Department and yet refused to permit the landlord access to make repairs, instead announcing that she intended to own the landlord’s home. Tenant made threats to Landlord and to Landlord’s mother. At one point, the police were called and issued an order of protection against the Tenant to protect the Landlord’s mother. The landlord contacted VLP to seek legal advice.
Outcome: Landlord’s mother has an extended order of protection to protect her from the tenant, the court ordered the tenant to permit access so repairs could be made and landlord received one year’s rent arrearage from the RAFT program. No eviction action was filed. VLP will continue to represent the Landlord.
Tenant had not paid rent for close to a year. Landlord filed an eviction action based on non payment of rent.
Outcome: On the day of trial, with the help of housing court mediation, and the presence of the Wayfinders group, Landlord and Tenant were able to enter into an agreement requiring the Tenant to immediately apply for RAFT/financial assistance to cover the full rental arrearage and the case was continued to allow for the tenant to file. “If I wasn’t represented, all of this would have went over my head”. VLP will continue to represent Landlord for her next two court dates.
WHAT CLIENTS ARE SAYING
- “Wow! I had no idea there was help for low-income, small landlords.”
- “I can’t thank you both enough for your support. I hope that all of our march is a march for the better. Love you both!”
- “Thank you both for being there. It matters to me like you do not know.”
RESOURCES FOR LANDLORDS
The documents and forms posted are for informational purposes only. They may change as the law, regulation and requirements can change without notice. Please make sure to check for the most up to date information.
- HAF – CDF Records Overview
- HAF – Guidance: Find HAF regulations here.
- HAF – Plans
- CFPB – Submit a Complaint
- Policy Changes to RAFT & ERAP Programs: ERAP and SHERA program will stop taking new applications after April 15, 2022. Households can continue to apply for rental assistance through the RAFT Program, which may provide up to $7,000 for rent and other housing costs, including moving expenses.
- RAFT: DHDC overview guide of RAFT policy information.
- Rental Assistance Application: Massachusetts Emergency Housing Payment Assistance Application.
- Emergency Rental Assistance: Landlord Journeys: Landlords can apply directly for rental assistance on behalf of eligible tenants.
- Massachusetts Homeowners Fund Overview: Need Help with Your Mortgage?
- FAQ: Homeowner Assistance Funds and Reverse Mortgages: Information about attempts to pause foreclosures while HAF applications are pending.
ERAP is no longer available, and no further information is available at this time.
- Evictions for Landlords. Learn about filing an eviction and what may happen before and after an eviction court case.
- Find out how to start the eviction process. Learn about the steps you need to take to end a tenancy and how to start the eviction process.
- File an Eviction Case. Learn the necessary steps a landlords needs to take to file an eviction case.
- Notice to Quit Requirements & Resources.
- Notice to Quit Attestation Form and Submission Information. All landlords must give tenants an attestation form and submit a copy of any Notice to Quit for nonpayment of rent given to a residential tenant during the COVID-19 State of Emergency to the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development.
- Learn about service of process in Boston Municipal Court, District Court or Housing Court. Learn about “Service of Process” – the way you deliver court papers to the person required to respond to them.
- Learn about going to court for an eviction case. Get information about preparing for court and what to expect at the first court date in an eviction case.
- How to Access Virtual Courts.
- Respond to a tenant who doesn’t come to their eviction court date. Find out what you need to do when a tenant doesn’t come to court.
- Learn about what may happen after an eviction hearing. Get information on when and how to remove a tenant.
- Court forms for eviction. A collection of court forms and information related to summary process (eviction)
EDUCATIONAL VIDEOS FOR LANDLORDS
The videos posted are for informational purposes only. They may change as the law, regulation and requirements can change without notice. Please make sure to check for the most up to date information.
- Starting an Eviction: by Adam Sherwin, Esq. The Sherwin Law Firm
- Selected Issues for Massachusetts Landlords: by Chris Saccardi, Esq. Broderick, Bancroft & Saccardi
- Tier 1 Events: by Peter T. Lane, Esq.
- An Overview of Answers and Discovery in Eviction Cases: by Chris Saccardi, Esq. Broderick, Bancroft & Saccardi
- Call 857-320-6452 to speak with our Landlord Project Coordinator about an on-going case or a new case.
- Are you a lawyer, law student, paralegal or members of the legal community? Click here to learn about volunteer opportunities with the Landlord Advocacy program.
If you are a community advocate or leader looking to refer a small landlord and/or if you are interested in collaborating with us, please email email@example.com.
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If you are a tenant seeking legal assistance, please fill out our online application here. If you don’t have an email address, please call VLP’s helpline 617-603-1700 between 9am-12pm EST to speak with an intake specialist.