RE Firm Resolves Claims of Housing Discrimination Against Families with Children

A Massachusetts real estate brokerage firm recently agreed to implement fair housing training and adopt new antidiscrimination policies to resolve allegations that it discriminated against families with children in housing rentals. The firm will also pay up to $17,500, including $5,000 to the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program, according to Attorney General Maura Healey.

Massachusetts law prohibits discrimination against prospective tenants on the basis of familial status. It is illegal for a realtor to place a rental advertisement indicating a preference for tenants without children. Landlords are required to comply with Massachusetts and federal lead laws, and a realtor may not steer families away from available housing because renting to them may trigger a landlord’s obligation to de-lead.

The complaint alleged that an agent at the real estate firm posted several online rental ads that discouraged applications from families with children. Allegedly, fair housing testing revealed he engaged in a pattern of discrimination by indicating to prospects with children that landlords had expressed unwillingness to de-lead their properties.

“Families with children are protected under Massachusetts law and have the right to live in housing where lead hazards have been abated,” Healey said in a statement. “Massachusetts realtors must understand that they cannot steer families with children away from available housing because of a landlord’s refusal to comply with the lead laws.”

Source: Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office