Coakley settles discrimination allegations

Bryan Cohen Mar. 15, 2012, 1:51pm


BOSTON (Legal Newsline) - Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley announced settlements on Wednesday against a Cambridge real estate business and a Haverhill housing management company for allegedly violating state fair housing and anti-discrimination laws.

The settlements with the Cambridge-based Skyline Properties, as well as the Haverhill-based Judson House Apartments and SHP Management Corporation, its management company, provide a broad range of relief and preventive measures to make sure that the companies comply with state and federal fair housing laws and anti-discrimination regulations in the future, Coakley says.

"It is illegal for landlords or real estate professionals to refuse to rent to people because they are disabled or have young children," Coakley said. "Massachusetts is facing critical housing needs and compliance with the law is an important obligation as all residents must be treated fairly."

Skyline Properties allegedly discouraged a family with children under six years of age from renting a certain property to avoid obligations to remove lead paint from the apartment.

The consent judgment requires Skyline Realty to pay the victims $5,000, implement anti-discrimination policies, have its employees complete training on federal and state fair housing laws, and notify Coakley's Civil Rights Division of any complaints related to housing discrimination for the next two years. The agreement was entered by Suffolk Superior Court Judge Bonnie MacLeod.

Judson House Apartments and SHP Management Corporation allegedly discriminated against a disabled prospective tenant because the companies did not accept that she had a disability unless she was in a wheelchair.

The assurance of discontinuance requires Judson House Apartments to retroactively restore the tenant to the priority waitlist that she was entitled to be on as a disabled person. In addition, Judson House Apartments, SHP and their employees are required to complete fair housing training, abide by state and federal housing and anti-discrimination laws, and notify the division of any housing discrimination complaints in the next three years. The agreement was filed on March 5 in Suffolk Superior Court.

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