With time running short, legislators met over the weekend to try to resolve key issues before hitting the campaign trail. Under the rules anything complex or controversial requiring a roll call vote must be resolved by July 31st at midnight. Over the weekend lawmakers grappled with several large issues including economic development, cannabis industry reforms, sports betting, mental health access and open space preservation. The scramble to the finish was further complicated by a 1986 voter law known as Chapter 62F, which would trigger $2.5 billion in tax rebates. As the aftermath of the late-night deliberations will become clearer in the coming days, it appears that the real estate industry remained relatively unscathed by several major threats to the industry. Notably, legislation to create local real estate transfer taxes, mandate tenant's rights of first refusal, and grant the sealing of evictions all failed to advance on Beacon Hill. A summary of those issues and their progress to date highlighted below.
Real Estate Sales Tax & Right to Purchase
In recent years housing advocates have developed a strategy to advance issues on a local level where it may be politically easier to adopt and send to the State House as a home rule petition. Two of those issues sought by the proponents would add cost and complexity to real estate transactions including right to purchase and a new sales tax on real estate. As was the case in 2020, both issues were offered as amendments to the economic development bill, but ultimately not included. GBREB also successfully opposed several stand-alone bills including legislation to tax the sale and transfer of controlling interest in the City of Boston. It is anticipated that both issues will return next session
Eviction Record Sealing
GBREB was successful in offering several amendments to an eviction record sealing bill
that was attached to the economic development bill including:
• Allowing for the automatic sealing of non-payment or rent cases once the judgement is paid and after demand is sent to the landlord.
• Allow for the sealing of non-fault evictions so long as no objection was filed.
• Modify the sealing of records pursuant to G.L. c.139 §19.
• Eliminate the sealing of records for cases brought for material lease violations
• Modify how a tenant discloses cases on a rental application
The economic development bill was ultimately not taken up before time expired. House & Senate Leadership have expressed an interest still considering the economic development bill during informal session once the tax issues are resolved.