Massachusetts Attorney General Supports Supreme Court Disparate Impact Housing Decision

The Attorney General released a statement late last month in response to a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision regarding disparate impact claims made under the Fair Housing Act (FHA). The ruling was in alignment with the Attorney General’s argument that both businesses and individuals involved in real estate transactions, including the renting and selling of homes, must be held legally accountable for the discriminatory effects of their practices.

The Court specifically referred to the amicus curiae brief filed by the Attorney General’s office for the proposition that disparate impact claims are critical for states to be able to combat the specific sort of systematic discrimination that the FHA was designed to address.

According to the Attorney General’s statement, the FHA was designed to eliminate both segregation and discrimination in the housing market, which she claims still persist today. She reflected on the fact that inequality in housing choices leads to other consequences, such as unequal educational opportunities, neighborhood features, employment opportunities, health outcomes, and more.

The FHA applies to both sales and rentals of homes and other housing-related transactions. It prohibits unfair treatment on the basis of race, color, gender, national origin, disability, religion, and familial status. This blog has recently covered situations involving the common practice of discriminating against families seeking to rent suitable homes.

One of the most common reasons that families can be discriminated against is in the case of homes where the landlord is attempting to avoid having to conduct a lead abatement. Lead poisoning can lead to brain damage and kidney problems in young children, which prompted the legislature to pass a Lead Law in 1971. Landlords are required to remove lead paint within certain parameters in order to eliminate the potential risk raised to children. The most common areas of potential for lead paint are around wooden window frames and doors. In Cambridge and the surrounding areas, it is unlawful to attempt to avoid renting to or to evict someone due to a desire not to address lead abatement. Landlords that do not conduct lead abatement can be held strictly liable for any resulting damages that might occur.

At Pulgini & Norton, we advise home owners, buyers, sellers, and lenders in a broad range of real estate matters. We carefully review and negotiate pivotal documents in the purchase and sale process. Whether you are a buyer or seller, we can negotiate terms that protect your interests while helping you resolve any issues that arise along the way. We can oversee the closing to ensure that documents are properly drafted, signed, and recorded, and that funds are distributed in a timely manner. We represent clients in Brookline, Lowell, and Malden, among other Massachusetts communities. Call us today at 781-843-2200 or contact us online for a consultation.

More Blog Posts:

Massachusetts Court: Real Property Liens Survive Bankruptcy Proceedings, Massachusetts Real Estate Lawyer Blog, published June 24, 2015

Appeals Court of Massachusetts Affirms Denial of Tax Abatement in Real Estate Case, Massachusetts Real Estate Lawyer Blog, published June 17, 2015

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