Coakley files suit over housing practices
BOSTON (Legal Newsline) - Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley announced on Thursday that she has filed a lawsuit against a realty trust and its manager over allegations that they violated state anti-discrimination, lead paint and consumer protection laws.
Mt. V.M. Realty Trust and Nicholas Keramaris allegedly posted discriminatory rental advertisements on Craigslist.org by referring to the lead status of an apartment and saying it would not rent it to families with young children.
"Protecting the civil rights of all residents and visitors to Massachusetts is a priority of our office," Coakley said.
"Our office will continue to monitor Craigslist and other publications to ensure that the real estate professionals and landlords who violate anti-discrimination laws are held accountable and that all individuals have equal access to housing opportunities."
Coakley alleges that Keramaris, on behalf of Mt. V.M., posted a Craigslist ad in June for an apartment building in Melrose that said the unit could not be rented to families with children under 6 years old because of its lead status.
Under state law, no one may refuse to rent or steer families away from any rental property due to an owner trying to circumvent his or her responsibility to eliminate lead hazards that pose serious health risks.
Coakley is seeking a court order prohibiting Mt. V.M. and Keramaris from engaging in any housing discrimination.
Coakley is also asking for compensatory and punitive damages, as well as all costs associated with the litigation.
This is the latest action brought by Coakley's office in an effort to clean up discrimination in rental properties. On Oct. 28, 2009, Coakley's office reached 20 settlements and filed six complaints against landlords and real estate agents across the state who were accused of similar unlawful acts.
Since taking office in January 2007, her office has obtained judgments in 91 housing discrimination cases brought against landlords, property managers and/or real estate companies.