The Small Property Owners Association (SPOA), founded in 1986 to consolidate the power of landlords in Cambridge, became a statewide organization primarily responsible for the abolition of rent control in Massachusetts by petitioning to get Question 9 on the ballot in 1994 (Bill Cunningham, Belonging [unpublished manuscript], 128). Question 9 passed by a hair-thin margin statewide, in spite of being overwhelmingly rejected by voters in Boston, Cambridge, and Brookline, the three municipalities statewide that actually had some form of rent control in place. The passage of Question 9 replaced legislation which enabled towns to enact local rent control laws in Massachusetts with new legislation banning local rent control (Belonging, 153). Rent control has not existed in MA since, and SPOA has continued to organize to fight attempts to reinstate it.
SPOA’s rise was part of a upsurge of landlord class organization in the ‘70s and ‘80s to fight rent control laws in Massachusetts – a similar organization formed in Somerville (the Somerville Property and Home Owners Association [SPHOA]) in 1974 (Steve Strahs, “Chamber of commerce-backed owners group demands 44% hike,” Somerville Journal, November 14, 1974, 12).