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Small landlords should not become an endangered species

Protesters carried mock buildings in Boston on Jan. 13, 2021, as tenants, faith leaders, and small landlords called for a stronger, longer federal eviction ban as part of a National Day of Action to Prevent Evictions.Lane Turner/Globe Staff

Kudos to Andrew Brinker for highlighting the challenges facing small landlords, who “own nearly half of the rental properties in Massachusetts” (“Small landlords find troubles multiply,” Page A1, Dec. 26). Small landlord buildings command lower rents than those owned by large landlords, putting these small landlords and their affordable housing units at risk. Research indicates these small landlords file far fewer evictions than do large landlords because, as a Volunteer Lawyers Project attorney reminds us, “eviction is expensive, it’s complicated, and it’s painful for everyone involved, especially when you know the person on the other side of the proceeding.” Large landlords that provide affordable housing can access dedicated public funds to hire staff and coordinate services for at-risk tenants, with eviction as a last resort. But small landlords housing the same at-risk population have little if any recourse to such professional help, which is a travesty.

Absent affordable property management, landlord counseling, and resident service coordination for these small landlords, Massachusetts will continue losing its supply of naturally occurring affordable housing units. Whatever legislation is offered up in the Commonwealth, the state will make a massive mistake if it doesn’t immediately begin supporting small landlords doing the right thing for many of the state’s tenants.


Peter G. Shapiro

Jamaica Plain

The writer is a small landlord. Professionally, he provides housing counseling and mediation services. The views expressed here are solely his own.