Saturday, March 21, 2015

R/E Brokerage Agrees To Fork Over Up To $17,500 To Settle Housing Discrimination Complaint; Fair Housing Testers Say Agent Allegedly Used Language In Online Ads Intended To Steer Away Families w/ Kids From Available Rentals Due To Landlord's Refusal To Comply w/ Massachusetts Law Requiring Abatement Of Lead-Based Paint Hazards

From the Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General:
  • Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage has agreed to implement fair housing training and adopt new antidiscrimination policies to resolve allegations that it discriminated against families with children in housing rentals, Attorney General Maura Healey announced []. Coldwell Banker will also pay up to $17,500, including $5,000 to the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program.

    “Families with children are protected under Massachusetts law and have the right to live in housing where lead hazards have been abated,” AG Healey said. “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.”

    According to the assurance of discontinuance, filed today in Suffolk Superior Court, Matthew Gore, an agent of Coldwell Banker in Jamaica Plain, posted several rental advertisements on Craigslist.org that discouraged applications from families with children. Subsequent fair housing tests conducted by the Suffolk University Housing Discrimination Testing Program(1) found that Gore had engaged in a pattern of discrimination by indicating to prospective tenants with children that landlords had expressed unwillingness to delead their properties.

    Under the terms of the settlement, Gore and certain agents of Coldwell Banker will attend training on fair housing and lead laws. Coldwell Banker will also adopt a comprehensive antidiscrimination policy that will be posted and distributed to agents in all of its Massachusetts offices. To ensure compliance with the settlement, Coldwell Banker will submit to future fair housing tests conducted by the Suffolk University Housing Discrimination Testing Program.

    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 delead.
Source: Coldwell Banker Resolves Claims of Housing Discrimination Against Families with Children (Real Estate Company to Pay Up to $17,500, Implement Fair Housing Training, and Adopt Comprehensive Antidiscrimination Policy).

(1) Suffolk University Law School's Housing Discrimination Testing Program is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to work in partnership with the Boston Fair Housing Commission to eliminate housing discrimination in the Boston metro area through testing, enforcement and education.

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