Mass. Landlord Pays $25K in Lead Paint Case

The owner of a 60-unit apartment building in Cambridge, Mass., has agreed to pay $25,000 to settle allegations that he discriminated against a family with a young child to avoid an obligation to remove lead paint hazards and later retaliated against them for filing a discrimination complaint, according to a recent announcement by Attorney General Martha Coakley.

According to the complaint, the community disproportionately increased the family’s monthly rent, refused to renew their lease, and failed to abate lead hazards in the family’s unit. Allegedly, the building’s former superintendent also harassed the family after they filed a complaint with local fair housing authorities.

Under Massachusetts law, it’s illegal to discriminate against residents because they have children or because the rental would require the landlord to abate lead hazards. It’s also illegal for a landlord to retaliate against residents because they have asserted their rights under the lead paint and antidiscrimination laws.

Under the terms of the settlement, the community owner agreed to relocate the family and delead the unit where they currently reside. In addition, the owner will pay $25,000, including $5,000 to the family and $10,000 each to the city and the state. The payment comes on top of the $29,000 the owner recently paid on a judgment obtained by state and local authorities when they sued to enforce an order on the initial discrimination allegations.

“The Commonwealth’s lead paint law protects children from the damaging effects of lead including impaired development and learning difficulties,” Coakley said in a statement. “We must ensure that families with children have access to lead-safe housing and are not discriminated against for asserting their rights under the law.”

Source: Massachusetts Attorney General Coakley’s Office


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