Lead the reason landlord wouldn't rent to family, Coakley claims

John O'Brien Aug. 12, 2008, 4:52pm


WORCESTER, Mass. (Legal Newsline) - A landlord who allegedly wouldn't rent to a family with a child because of the presence of lead paint must pay $4,000, thanks partly to the efforts of Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley.

Coakley's western office earned the settlement, approved last week in Worcester Superior Court, against Faraq Mohamed. It is the 23rd case Coakley has steered to settlement or judgment since taking office last year, and she has 16 more pending.

Coakley alleged that Mohamed wanted to terminate the tenancy of the alleged victims after a test revealed the presence of lead in the apartment in 2003.

"By attempting to terminate the victim's tenancy because she had children under the age of 6 and by refusing to abate lead paint after it was discovered, Mr. Mohamed violated his legal duties as a landlord," Coakley said.

"Our office is pleased with the outcome of this judgment because it will require Mr. Mohamed to put strong antidiscrimination policies in place and to participate in training on fair housing laws."

Mohamed will also have to advertise his rental property as "Equal Housing Opportunity" properties, adopt a written antidiscrimination policy, maintain a record of rejected applicants and report all discrimination complaints to the Attorney General's office.

The presence of lead paint in the apartment was removed during litigation.

Whose responsibility it is to abate lead paint has been the subject of great debate, with paint companies recently earning a major win in Rhode Island. They have also been successful in litigation in New Jersey, Wisconsin, Missouri and Ohio.

Lead paint was outlawed in 1978.

From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien by e-mail at john@legalnewsline.com.

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