U.S. Department of Justice Announces Settlement in Massachusetts Fair Housing Discrimination Case

In yet another alleged case of discrimination in housing involving families with young children, the U.S. Department of Justice announced a settlement with a company that owns and operates an apartment complex in Massachusetts.

The case, which was filed in federal court, stems from alleged violations of the Fair Housing Act in connection with families. The case claims that the owner/operators of the apartment complex engaged in practices that segregated families with young children by relegating them to certain buildings, areas, and floors of the apartment complex at issue.

The data regarding the case was collected as part of a test program, in which individuals pose as would-be potential tenants and then gather information regarding any potential discriminatory actions.

The terms of the agreement, which must first be approved by the court, include the establishment of a fund, designed to compensate victims of the alleged discriminatory practices. The apartment company will also pay several thousand dollars in civil fines and agree to take actions to prevent this kind of discrimination from occurring again, including allowing families to rent in any of the various areas of the apartment complex.

This case is the second in recent months involving alleged discrimination against families with children in finding suitable housing. The prior case, which you can read about in more depth on this blog, dealt with the Massachusetts Attorney General, and the discrimination implicated families because the landlords apparently did not want to comply with state laws regarding retrofitting rentals so that they no longer had lead paint. Here, however, the discrimination was allegedly more straightforward, in that the landlords simply would not rent beyond certain confined areas to families with children.

As the owner of a rental property, you may assume that you need not comply with lead laws as long as you don’t rent to someone with children. However, it is illegal to evict or refuse to rent to somebody because they have children and you have lead paint in the home. Therefore, if you intend on renting your home, and in order to prevent a potential discrimination claim yourself, you may want to consider lead abatement sooner rather than later.

Moreover, if you do not bother with the lead removal and a child is poisoned by lead in the rental, you are legally responsible for the child’s injuries.

Furthermore, as discussed on this blog, a seller or real estate agent who fails to follow the Property Transfer Lead Paint Notification can be assessed civil penalties under state law and under federal law. Whether you are a buyer or seller in Boston, you should be aware of lead paint issues, the Lead Law, and your obligations under it. The experienced property inspection attorneys at Pulgini & Norton can help you understand and meet your obligations. Contact us today to discuss your case at 781-843-2200.

More Blog Posts:

Bankruptcy Court Rules Against Bank in Homeowner Mortgage Case, Massachusetts Real Estate Lawyer Blog, published April 29, 2015

Appeals Court of Massachusetts Renders Decision for MERS in Mortgage Assignment Case, Massachusetts Real Estate Lawyer Blog, published April 24, 2015

Contact Information