Groups Concerned About Pamphlet

Tenant groups yesterday expressed concern with a pamphlet released last week by Massachusetts Secretary of State William F. Galvin discussing the two-year transition period before the end of rent control.

The pamphlet, titled "What you should know if you are a tenant or landlord of a rent-controlled unit in Boston, Brookline or Cambridge," is designed to explain the rights of both tenants and landlords, said Dineen Diette, assistant director of communications for the Secretary of State.

"The Secretary of State is the chief information officer in the state," Diette said. "He wants to make sure that people in the Commonwealth have a clear source on information that can be very complicated and wants to eliminate as much confusion as possible."

But Pamela A. Bender, executive director of the Massachusetts Tenants' Organization, said the pamphlet is biased toward landlords at the expense of tenants.

In particular, Bender said she is "outraged" by the fact that the pamphlet lists the names and telephone numbers of three organization set up by property owners but no organizations set up by tenants.

"I want this corrected immediately," Bender said. "If my tax dollars pay for landlords to get organized, I want tenants to get equal time out of my tax money."

And Robert J. LaTremouille, a Cambridge attorney and a supporter of rent control, criticized the pamphlet as "excessively simple."

"This guy has tried," LaTremouille said, "but he has left a lot out."

LaTremouille said the document places too heavy an emphasis on Boston and does not provide enough information about Cambridge.

"We have legal assistance groups in Cambridge that are quite willing to help tenants [but are not listed]," LaTremouille said.

Greater Boston Legal Assistance Corporation, the legal service available to help tenants facing evictions that is referred to in the pamphlet, cannot even help Cambridge tenants, said Jeff Purcell, an attorney for the corporation.

"It's completely untrue that we have the ability to represent the number of people that need representation," Purcell said. "I have a hundred eviction cases right now."

Bender said the document demonstrates the Weld administrations' supports for property owners at the expense of tenants. "I guess it only reinforces what we learned about the administration all along," she said. "They considered the real estate industry their constituency but not the tenants."

But Shawn K. Sheehy, president of the Massachusetts Landlords' Association, said the Galvin pamphlet is factually correct and helpful. "I thought that it was very factual and provides accurate information of what the law is all about," Sheehy said. "Landlords want to work with their tenants, and when they have a good tenant who is making their best efforts to pay their rents, they want to keep them."

Diette said that despite the concerns of tenant groups, she believes the pamphlet treats tenants fairly. "I'm not aware of any complaints," she said.

Even with Galvin's pamphlet on rent control, Cambridge will continue to disseminate its won information on the rights of tenants and landlords, said Terrence P. Morris, director of the Cambridge Rent Control Board.

"We're not relying on anyone else to disseminate information to tenants in the city of Cambridge," he said. "We want to make sure the information that we give to tenants and landlords is complete and accurate."