Coakley sues manufactured home community for housing discrimination

Nick Rees Oct. 7, 2008, 12:02am

Martha Coakley (D)

PLYMOUTH, Mass. (Legal Newsline) -- A housing discrimination and consumer protection lawsuit has been filed against a Massachusetts manufactured home community, alleging the company prevented a home owner from selling a home to a buyer under the age of 55.

Swift's Beach Manufactured Home Community in Wareham, Mass., allegedly violated housing and anti-discrimination laws. The complaint against Swift's Beach, filed by Attorney General Martha Coakley's office, alleges that the company violated state consumer protection laws with an unauthorized over-55 age requirement for residents.

The complaint stems from the attempted sale of a house by a family of four with two young children who had lived at Swift Beach since 1994.

Homeowners at Swift's Beach own their manufactured home but rent the lots on which they sit. Approval from the community land owner must be sought to sell one of the houses. Swift's Beach allegedly told the homeowner that the community had changed its rules to allow only occupants 55 and older and barred the homeowner from selling to anyone under that age.

A request to the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development by Swift's Beach in September 2007 to become an age-restricted park was denied. The agency, according to the complaint, told Swift's Beach that under no circumstances could it discriminate based upon age.

A permanent injunction is being sought to prohibit Swift's Beach from withholding approval to buyers under 55. The attorney general's office is also seeking to require anti-discrimination and manufactured housing training for employees of Swift's Beach. Restitution is also being sought as are attorneys' fees and penalties for consumer protection laws.

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