January 13, 2019
Our Attorney General has proclaimed that "All Tenants Have a Right to Be Free From Harassment and Intimidation." We of the Stop Bullying Coalition, on behalf of the more than 92,000 tenants of multifamily public and subsidized housing for elderly and people with disability, seek to assure that freedom. And to that end, we ask you to join your colleagues, Senator Joan B. Lovely and Representative Bradford Hill, and to sponsor our bill prior to filing.
An Act Relative to Bullying in Housing sponsored by Senator Joan B. Lovely and Representative Brad Hill
A Bill Protecting Elderly Persons and Persons With Disability From Bullying, Mobbing, and Hostile Environment Harassment in Multifamily Subsidized and Public Housing.
This bill establishes the Tenant Protective Services Agency to investigate complaints about bullying of tenants who are elderly or persons with disability, to provide protection to targets of bullying, and to refer situations of hostile environment harassment or institutional mobbing to the Attorney General or District Attorney for civil action against the landlord to protect the rights of residents, including the right of peaceful enjoyment.
The Commission on Bullying, on which I served, was able to do significant new research. One topic emerged to be of great importance---mobbing. Where the landlord does not act against bullying to protect the right of all tenants to peaceful enjoyment, it is mobbing, and in such circumstances, I see no effective way to prevent the bullying.
The established right of tenants to have peaceful enjoyment is diminished by mobbing and bullying.
In contrast, our research also found that many landlords work with their tenants as well as their managers and staff to assure the rights of tenants and oversee peaceful, healthy communities. It can be done!
Only if tenants are protected from bullying and retaliation can people live a healthy and peaceful community life. Today, alas, there is no way for tenants to reliably obtain relief and justice. Therefore, the minority Commission report and this legislation focus on creating the capability for investigation, protection, and holding the landlord responsible.
I depend on you and your colleagues to advise and help us develop effective legislation.
We stand ready to work together with you and your colleagues to enable the Commonwealth to improve the lives of all who live or work in public or subsidized housing.
Thank you for your consideration.
Mary Margaret Moore
Former Executive Director, Independent Living Center of the North Shore and Cape Ann
Mass Union of Public Housing Tenants
Attorney General's Advisory on Harassment in Housing