Coakley settles with landlord

Bryan Cohen Aug. 25, 2011, 3:00am


WORCESTER, Mass. (Legal Newsline) - Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley announced a settlement on Wednesday with a Worcester, Mass., landlord to resolve allegations that he failed to respond to an African-American tenant family's claim of racial discrimination.

The settlement agreement alleges that Emile Akpaki violated state anti-discrimination laws by failing to take action against other tenants in the same building who allegedly threatened, harassed and made racially discriminatory statements toward the family.

According to the family's complaint to the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, their upstairs neighbors repeatedly threatened them with physical assault and used racial slurs towards them. The complaint alleged that the family reported these behaviors to Akpaki on several occasions, but that he did nothing to prevent the behavior from continuing.

Under state law, it is illegal to aid, abet, incite, compel or coerce the doing of any of the acts forbidden by the Massachusetts Anti-discrimination Statute. Landlords in the state have an obligation to ensure that tenants live in housing free from acts of discriminatory conduct and must take action to address discriminatory acts caused by other tenants.

To comply with the settlement, Akpaki has already completed training on federal and state fair housing law through MCAD. The settlement also requires that Akpaki include "Equal Housing Opportunity" notifications in any rental advertisements for the next three years, keep records for the next three years of all advertisements placed and all applications from prospective tenants, notify Coakley's Civil Rights Division of any discrimination complaints made against him in the next three years and pay $2,000 to the family, with an additional $2,500 payment to the state suspended providing Akpaki continues to comply with the terms of the settlement.

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