Coakley still looking through real estate section

Coakley

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (Legal Newsline) - Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley announced on Tuesday that she has obtained a consent judgment against a landlord who allegedly posted a discriminatory housing advertisement.

South Dartmouth landlord Jason Griffith allegedly posted an item on Craigslist.org that made discriminatory statements involving a rental property. The judgment will provide preventative measures to ensure that Griffith complies with state and federal fair housing laws in the future.

"Compliance with our anti-discrimination laws is an important obligation for landlords and real estate professionals and they must recognize that discrimination in any form will not be tolerated in Massachusetts," Coakley said. "Our office will continue to monitor Craigslist and take action against persons and entities that violate the law."

Griffith's ad, posted in April of 2009, allegedly contained the phrase "no Section 8" on a listing for a South Dartmouth apartment. It is a violation of the Massachusetts Anti-Discrimination Act to discriminate against anyone who uses state or federal housing subsidies to pay for all or a portion of their rent.

Under terms of the judgment, Griffith must attend fair housing training on housing laws and is prohibited from further use of discriminatory advertisements or otherwise discriminating against any person seeking housing. He must also advertise any rental property in the future as being an "Equal Housing Opportunity" property. Additionally, he must pay $1,150 to the Local Consumer Aid Fund.

Over the course of the last nine months, Coakley's office has filed six complaints and settled with 27 landlords and real estate companies accused of violating similar fair housing and consumer protection laws through discriminatory ads on the Internet.

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