Sunday, March 19, 2017

Massachusetts AG Squeezes $60K (Tenant's Share: $40K) Out Of Boston Landlord For Its Alleged Lack Of Responsiveness To Wheelchair-Bound Tenant's Accessibility-Related Requests In Violation Of State Fair Housing Requirements

From the Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General:
  • Multiple individuals will receive monetary damages and several property owners and management companies across the state will strengthen their anti-discrimination and fair housing policies after three separate settlements were reached over claims of disability-based housing discrimination against tenants, Attorney General Maura Healey announced [recently].

    The AG’s Office finalized settlements in three separate cases resolving allegations that the defendants, mainly property owners and managers, discriminated against tenants by failing to reasonably accommodate their disabilities.
In one case:
  • Mission Park and RTH together own residential apartments located in several buildings in the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston, including the Mission Park properties, which are managed by Trinity.

    According a complaint filed by the AG’s Office, these three entities engaged in a pattern of discriminatory and unlawful housing practices against a tenant on the basis of her disability by repeatedly failing to provide reasonable accommodations and modifications to her residence. The tenant has spina bifida and uses a wheelchair.

    The tenant’s mother repeatedly expressed her need for a wheelchair-accessible unit, including an accessible bathroom, doorways, kitchen counters, and entrances. The tenant also asked for permission to keep an emotional support dog. In each instance, the defendants allegedly failed to engage in an interactive dialogue, required burdensome and unnecessary paperwork, and unreasonably delayed or refused to provide the reasonable modifications or accommodations.

    Pursuant to a consent judgment filed in Suffolk Superior Court, the defendants have agreed to pay a total of $60,000, including $40,000 in damages to the complainants, $15,000 to the Commonwealth, and $5,000 to be used for education programs for tenants with disabilities. The defendants are also required institute comprehensive anti-discrimination policies and provide fair housing training for staff.
For more, see AG Healey Obtains Multiple Settlements in Fair Housing Cases on Behalf of Tenants With Disabilities (Properties Located in Worcester, Roxbury, and East Wareham; Settlements Secure $155,000 in Restitution for Tenants, Penalties and Funding for Educational Programs).

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