Settlement Reached in Massachusetts Family Discrimination Housing Case

The Attorney General of Massachusetts recently announced that the state has reached a settlement with Coldwell Banker, on the matter of alleged instances of discrimination against families with children in housing rentals. Discrimination against prospective tenants on the basis of familial status is prohibited under Massachusetts law.

The allegations include an accusation that an agent of Coldwell Banker had posted several rental advertisements on the popular website Craigslist, discouraging families with children from inquiring about the rental. A subsequent investigation revealed that the same agent had engaged in a pattern of similar discrimination by informing the potential prospective tenants who had children that the landlords who owned the properties had an unwillingness to de-lead their properties, which would thus make them unavailable for those families to rent.

Craigslist is a website that offers hub pages based on different community locations, with one main page for each major metro area, and listings broken up by individual neighborhoods. It is thus a very desirable and easy way to list rentals for individuals looking based on their desired locale. Craigslist has been in the news for housing discrimination issues in the past in various locations nationwide.

Families living in Massachusetts have the right to live in homes where lead hazards have been removed. Under the terms of the settlement, Coldwell Banker will pay a fine, which is to include a payment to an organization related to preventing childhood lead poisoning. Additionally, several agents of the company, including the one purportedly responsible for the Craigslist listings, will attend a training on lead laws and fair housing. Coldwell Banker has also agreed to adopt a comprehensive anti-discrimination policy, which will be distributed to all of its agents with Massachusetts offices. Furthermore, the company has agreed to submit to future fair housing tests by the same program that was involved in this case.

The two main legal issues involved in this case were the discrimination against families with children, and the landlords failing to comply with Massachusetts and federal lead laws. It is unlawful for a realtor to discourage a family from renting a property simply because a landlord would rather not comply with the various lead regulations.

At Pulgini & Norton, we offer dedicated representation in real estate matters as well as claims arising from job-related accidents or illnesses. Our Boston lawyers have experience handling a wide range of property transactions, including the purchase and sale of homes, financing and tax concerns, and zoning issues. We also provide comprehensive guidance in Massachusetts workers’ compensation matters. We can advise you on your right to benefits and help you appeal any denial of a claim. We represent clients in Brookline, Hyde Park, and New Bedford, among other communities throughout the state. Call our office today at 781-843-2200 to schedule a consultation.

More Blog Posts:
Massachusetts Appeals Court Sides with MERS in Mortgage Assignment Case, Massachusetts Real Estate Lawyer Blog, published March 2, 2015

Appeals Court Rules: What Creates a Legally Enforceable Easement under Massachusetts Law?, Massachusetts Real Estate Lawyer Blog, published February 23, 2015

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