Bryan Cohen Feb. 28, 2013, 6:57pm

BOSTON (Legal Newsline) -- Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley announced a $75,000 settlement on Wednesday with a Boston area landlord to resolve allegations that he engaged in unlawful and retaliatory practices against tenants with young children.

Keith L. Miller allegedly evicted, or threatened to evict, tenants with young children, rented apartments with lead paint to tenants with young children, failed to provide proper notice of lead hazards to his tenants, failed to remove lead hazards in apartments, refused to repair unsafe and unsanitary conditions, made misrepresentations about the presence of lead paint in his apartments and illegally tried to charge tenants for water use.

The consent judgment resolves a fair housing complaint filed in February 2011 against Miller, who at the time owned and managed at least 24 residential rental units in the Boston area. Coakley's office expanded the case against Miller in February 2012 after learning of additional claims against the landlord.

"In a rental market as large as Greater Boston's, it's important that tenants know their rights and that landlords follow the law," Coakley said. "This settlement demonstrates that there are serious consequences for landlords who would sacrifice public safety to save a few dollars."

The consent judgment extends a preliminary injunction obtained from Suffolk Superior Court in March for five additional years, requiring Miller to remove lead paint hazards from his units if children under six are living in them, to refrain from discriminating against tenants and to not retaliate against tenants for complaining about unsafe conditions.

Miller must also pay $75,000 to the state, obtain certificates of habitability before commencing new tenancies, advise Coakley's office of newly-acquired properties and their lead status, direct employees to receive fair housing training and provide Coakley's office with notice of claims of discrimination made against him.

Federal and state housing laws make it illegal to discriminate against an individual or family seeking housing because of familial status, sex, religion, color, race, handicap/disability or national origin. State law requires the disclosure of lead paint history and the abatement of lead paint hazards in units in which children under the age of six are living.

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