Mass. AG settles with multiple landlords

Bryan Cohen Jul. 11, 2012, 6:41am


BOSTON (Legal Newsline) - Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley announced settlements on Friday with multiple landlords to resolve allegations that they refused to rent to families with children.

Celina Puszko, Alojzy Jackiewicz, Gregory Howell and Scott Michels allegedly refused to rent to families with children to avoid obligations to remove lead paint hazards. It is illegal under Massachusetts state law to discriminate against housing applicants because they have children or because the rental would force the landlord to remove lead hazards.

"The commonwealth's lead paint law protects children from the damaging effects of lead, which include impaired development, learning difficulties, and behavior problems," Coakley said. "By enforcing this law our office works to ensure that families with children are able to find lead-safe housing within the commonwealth."

Celina Puszko and Alojzy Jackiewicz, property owners in Dorchester, allegedly discriminated against families with children under six years of age by refusing to rent to them to avoid an obligation to remove lead paint hazards.

Along with a June 22 complaint filed in Suffolk Superior Court, the parties filed a consent judgment that was entered on July 3. The agreement requires Puszko and Jackiewicz to de-lead at least one of their Dorchester rental units, pay $3,000 in penalties and restitution, and attend fair housing training.

Gregory Howell and Scott Michels, the joint owners of four rental properties in Fairhaven, Wareham and Bourne, allegedly posted a discriminatory advertisement for one of their Wareham properties on Craigslist. The advertisement allegedly stated that certain families with young children were not eligible to rent the property because it contained lead hazards.

Under the terms of a June 25 assurance of discontinuance, Howell and Michels will pay a $3,000 penalty, de-lead the Wareham property and attend fair housing training.

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