Judge rules for Coakley in landlord's case

Nick Rees Apr. 7, 2010, 11:24am


BOSTON (Legal Newsline) - Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley has obtained a judgment against a landlord that resolves allegations of discriminatory statements made in rental advertisements posted on Craigslist.

The judgment against Lineheart Smith, signed by Suffolk Superior Court Judge John Crastley, provides a broad range of relief and preventive measures that ensure future compliance by Smith with state and federal fair housing laws, Coakley says.

Smith is required by the settlement to attend trainings on state and federal fair housing laws. Additionally, the settlement prohibits him from placing discriminatory advertisements or otherwise discriminating against any person who is a member of a protected class seeking or applying for housing.

Any future rental property advertised by Smith must be noted as "Equal Housing Opportunity" properties as a result of the judgment, which also requires Smith to pay a $3,000 civil penalty to the Local Consumer Aid Fund.

Smith was alleged to have placed an advertisement on Craigslist in May for a unit for rent in Hyde Park. The advertisement stated "no Section 8." The Massachusetts Anti-Discrimination Act prohibits real estate companies, agents, landlords and others involved in property rentals from discriminating against people using state and federal housing subsidies to pay for all or a portion of their rent.

"Our office's lawsuit alleged that this landlord had discriminated against low-income individuals seeking housing," Coakley said.

"Landlords and real estate professionals must recognize that the rental market is a regulated industry and compliance with our anti-discrimination laws is an important obligation. While we hope that this enforcement initiative will have a deterrent effect, our office will continue to monitor Craigslist and take action against landlords and real estate professionals who violate the law."

The judgment against Smith follows a continuing statewide investigation by Coakley's office into reports of widespread discriminatory Internet advertising.

Six complaints were filed and 20 settlements reached in October by Coakley's office with landlords and real estate agents across Massachusetts accused of violating state anti-discrimination laws on Craigslist.

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