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Mass. AG announces $25,000 discrimination settlement with apartment owner

By Bryan Cohen | Jan 18, 2013

BOSTON (Legal Newsline) - Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley announced a $25,000 settlement Thursday with the owner of a Cambridge apartment building to resolve allegations of discrimination against a family with a young child.

Ware Hall Trust, the owner of the 60-unit apartment building in Cambridge, and Marina Kaufman, its former trustee, allegedly discriminated against a family with a young child to avoid obligations to remove lead paint hazards. The defendants also allegedly retaliated against the family for filing a discrimination complaint.

"The commonwealth's lead paint law protects children from the damaging effects of lead including impaired development and learning difficulties," Coakley said. "We must ensure that families with children have access to lead-safe housing and are not discriminated against for asserting their rights under the law."

In September 2011, Ware Hall Trust and Kaufman allegedly increased the family's monthly rent disproportionately, refused to accept rental payments, refused to renew the family's lease and failed to remedy lead hazards in the family's apartment. The building's former superintendent also allegedly harassed the family after it filed a complaint with the Cambridge Human Rights Commission.

Under the terms of a consent judgment, Ware Hall Trust must relocate the family, de-lead the apartment where the family currently resides, pay $5,000 to the family, pay $10,000 to the city of Cambridge, pay $10,000 to the state and require all employees to attend fair housing training.

The Ware Hall Trust recently paid more than $29,000 owed on a judgment obtained by Coakley's office and the city of Cambridge when they brought suit to enforce an order by the CHRC regarding the initial allegations of discrimination.

The state's anti-discrimination law makes it illegal to discriminate against tenants because they have children or because the rental would necessitate that the landlord abate lead hazards. Additionally, it is illegal for a landlord to retaliate against tenants after asserting their rights under the anti-discrimination and lead paint laws.

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