In an encore of The Business Beat, Steve Jones-D’Agostino, strategic partner of Susan Wagner PR + Best Rate of Climb, interviews Douglas Quattrochi (shown, left), part-time executive director of the Worcester Property Owners Association since December 2013. He’s also full-time COO of Artist Bomb in Lowell, an angel-funded startup in the live-music industry. Steve’s other guest is Rich Trifone (shown, right), WPOA’s membership coordinator and a Realtor with RE/Max Vision. Both Doug and Rich own residential rental properties. This episode aired originally on March 16, 2014.
They talk about the challenges and opportunities for landlords in a still-struggling economy.
The Worcester Property Owners Association is Worcester County’s oldest landlord group. The organization was formed in the 1940s, formally incorporated in Massachusetts in the 1980s, and restructured as a modern, not-for-profit trade organization in 2013.
Beginning in the ‘40s prominent businessmen such as the late Israel Katz, Arthur LaRiviere and others organized to deal with the rental-business challenges of the day. The focus was legislative, and this was to remain an important focus through to the present day.
In the mid ‘60s, Leo Charbonneau and Ed Edison came in and called the group the Landlord’s Guild. This group functioned until 1970, when Irving Coven formally rebranded it as the Rental Housing Association of Worcester County.
The Worcester group developed cohesiveness through the oil-embargo days of the late ‘70s, which were very challenging. Sudden increases in heating oil-prices triggered rent increases for apartments with “utilities included,” and this in turn brought out counterproductive actions by tenant groups, including very serious talk of rent control.
This movement was narrowly defeated here in Massachusetts on a statewide basis. However, certain communities such Cambridge became subject to local rent-control laws.
In the late ‘70s, the name was changed to Worcester Property Owners Association. In the ‘80s, under the guidance of Haskell Morin and Bob Sweeney, it grew to one of the largest organizations of its kind.
In the late ‘80s, WPOA presidents Irene Chiavalloti and JoAn Geissler worked to overturn rent control in Cambridge. They joined with the Mass Rental Housing Association and other landlord groups all over the state. In 1994, rent control was overturned.
Without a need for urgent political action, the WPOA developed a focus on education, legal compliance, and operational efficiency. Bills presented to the state legislature without landlord input were dealt with as they came up.