Mass. AG files housing discrimina tion lawsuit

Bryan Cohen Sep. 23, 2011, 1:57am


BOSTON (Legal Newsline) - Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley announced a lawsuit on Friday against the owner and landlord of a Cambridge apartment building for alleged housing discrimination.

Marina Kaufman of Lexington and Ware Hall Trust allegedly violated state anti-discrimination, lead paint, consumer protection and housing laws. The defendants own and manage at least 50 rental units in Cambridge. According to the complaint, the defendants allegedly engaged in unlawful retaliation against tenants with a young child for exercising their rights under the state anti-discrimination and lead paint laws.

"Massachusetts law requires landlords to comply with lead paint laws designed to protect young children from known health hazards," Coakley said. "The law also prohibits landlords from retaliating against tenants who exercise their right to file a discrimination complaint. Massachusetts is facing critical housing needs and residents must be treated fairly."

The defendants allegedly disproportionately increased monthly rent, refused to accept rental payments, refused to renew the tenants' lease and failed to abate lead hazards in an apartment rented to tenants with a young child. In addition, the complaint alleges that defendant Jeffrey Cardoza, the building superintendent, engaged in a pattern of harassment against the tenants after they filed a housing discrimination complaint with the Cambridge Human Rights Commission.

Coakley's office filed the complaint after the CHRC found probable cause that the defendants allegedly engaged in unlawful retaliation against the tenants.

Coakley's office is seeking injunctive relief and damages for the victims as the result of the defendants' alleged unlawful and discriminatory housing acts.

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