The Special Senate Committee on Housing has released their final report containing several recommendations for legislators moving forward, including three priorities that help Realtors® and support Private Property Rights: Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs); Multi-family Housing; and Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief. If adopted, these items would be huge wins for the Association and homeowners across the state.
Massachusetts Association of Realtors® and Greater Boston Real Estate Board Government Affairs Staff have been members of the Senate Committee on Housing, providing valuable insight to the Committee’s subcommittees and group as a whole. While this report is a step in the right direction, more work still needs to be done to ensure legislation containing these provisions is passed.
Read more below to see the impact these priorities would have on private property rights:
Accessory Dwelling Units
ADUs, also known as “in-law apartments,” provide units that can be integrated into existing single family neighborhoods to provide low-priced housing alternatives that have little to no negative impact on the character of the neighborhood. Current state law does not require that zoning ordinances and bylaws permit accessory dwelling units in residential zoning districts, whether by right or with a special permit.
Multifamily construction is important as a means to provide affordable housing in the Commonwealth. Current state law allows municipalities to adopt a zoning law permitting multifamily housing construction in nonresidential zoning districts with a special permit but does not require municipalities to permit multifamily development by right. By requiring municipalities to permit multifamily development in zoning districts suitable for such development, and by establishing a minimum density for those developments, housing production is increased and allows for more affordable units to be built.
Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief
The general tax rule that applies to debt forgiven treats the amount forgiven, sometimes referred to as phantom income, as taxable income to the borrower. Proposed legislation would allow homeowners to complete loan modifications, short sales and foreclosures for which they have debt forgiven without making them liable to pay state taxes on that debt. This would mirror the federal law, the Mortgage Debt Relief Act of 2007, to allow taxpayers to apply for this exclusion on their state tax return.
Read the full text of the Committee’s report.
(Please note: This blog post was prepared by MAR Legal Staff: Michael McDonagh, General Counsel; Ashley Stolba, Associate Counsel; Justin Davidson, Legislative & Regulatory Counsel; and Christine Howe, Public Policy and Finance Coordinator)