Coakley wins lead discrimination case

John O'Brien Sep. 15, 2008, 4:55pm


BOSTON (Legal Newsline) - Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley has obtained another judgment punishing landlords who discriminated against potential tenants because they did not want to remove the presence of lead from their building.

On Monday, Middlesex Superior Court Judge Wendie Gershengorn ordered William and Pamela Young to pay $10,000 to a man and wife who are expecting a child. The Youngs allegedly did not renew their lease because they did not want to abate the lead after the child was born.

A similar suit headed by Coakley had a similar result in August.

"Landlords in Massachusetts need to understand that refusing to rent or refusing to renew a lease because tenants will have children under the age of 6 living in the apartment is illegal," Coakley said.

"Lead paint poses a significant health risk to young children. Equal access to safe housing for families is critical and is a right of all residents of the Commonwealth."

Under state law, a landlord is required to abate lead hazards when a children under the age of 6 resides in a rental apartment.

The Youngs will participate in a training session on fair housing and lead paint laws and maintain a record of rental applications made by prospective tenants who are pregnant or who will be living with a child or children under the age of 6 for three years.

The apartment was de-leaded during the litigation.

Whose responsibility it is to abate lead paint has been the subject of great debate, with paint companies in July 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.

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