Defendants to Pay $12,500; Attend Fair Housing Training and Adopt New Policies
WASHINGTON, D.C. – January 10, 2013 – (RealEstateRama) — Boston-area housing providers have agreed to pay $12,500, attend fair housing training, and implement new policies to avoid future fair housing violations to resolve allegations of discrimination against families with children as well as violations of the lead paint laws, Attorney General Coakley announced today.
“Massachusetts law protects families from discrimination and ensures their right to live in residential units free of lead hazards,” AG Coakley said. “Real estate professional and landlords must understand that it is illegal to refuse to rent to a family because they have children or to fail to comply with all requirements of the lead paint laws.”
According to the assurance of discontinuance, filed this week in Suffolk Superior Court, William L’Heureux, an agent of Capitol Realty Group of Boston and JP&B Realty located in Belmont, posted several facially discriminatory advertisements on Craigslist. The Suffolk University Law School Housing Discrimination Testing Program conducted a series of fair housing tests responding to these advertisements that indicated L’Heureux was engaged in a pattern of discrimination against families with children, due to the presence of lead paint in the units.
According to one test, L’Heureux refused to show a rental unit to a fair housing “tester” who stated that he had a child under six years of age while on the same day agreeing to show the same property to another tester that had children. Capitol Realty Group manages approximately 50 properties in the Boston area, while JP&B Realty owns 12 properties, containing 21 rental units in Watertown.
The defendants also allegedly failed to provide adequate notice of lead paint hazards to tenants who rented the units.
Under the terms of the settlement, L’Heureux and certain employees of Capitol and JP&B must attend training on fair housing laws. In addition, they are required to issue updated anti-discrimination policies, provide lead inspection reports to all current tenants residing in JP&B-owned properties, and allow the Suffolk University Law School Housing Discrimination Testing Program to perform fair housing tests in the future.
Under Massachusetts law it is illegal to discriminate against housing applicants because of their familial status or to make a statement or publish an advertisement indicating a limitation or preference against families with children. Landlords must also fully comply with the lead paint laws, including the removal or covering of lead paint hazards where any child under the age of six resides and providing tenants with all required lead paint disclosures at the inception of their tenancies.
This matter was handled by Assistant Attorneys General Melissa L. Swindel and Andrew W. Koster of AG Coakley’s Civil Rights Division.