Lien program puts tenants in middle

Saturday December 1, 2012

The Berkshire Eagle on Oct. 19 reports the im pending action of tax liens (not properties) and that private firms and investors will pursue their investment with the delinquent property owners. My focus is on the rights and possible need for protection of tenants in these properties. The Eagle write-up did not mention tenants.

In my judgment, the purchase of these liens is an atypical financial arrangement be tween two parties that may squeeze the tenants caught in the middle. The more predictable landlord-tenant equa tion covered by current law may shift suddenly against the interest of the tenant when the third party, namely aggressive private firms, en ters the picture with only the goal of collecting money. I don’t think we can assume benignity in such cases.

I urge two actions:

First, review current law applicable to auctions, keeping in mind our city’s obligations to all parties. Every effort should be made to protect the least powerful in all such auctions, particularly those already in danger of eviction or homelessness. If current law requires legal adjustment, I encourage the administration to do so.

Second, before the auctions take place, establish a reliable tracking system to follow new requests for emergency shelter, evictions and other evidence of tenant dislocation directly traceable to the auctions. Well-designed research will show the presence of social consequences, both good and bad.





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