Mass. AG gets court order against landlord, property manager

By Bryan Cohen | May 30, 2013

BOSTON (Legal Newsline) - Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley announced a $38,000 court order Thursday against a Melrose landlord and property manager to resolve allegations of housing discrimination.

Suffolk Superior Court entered a civil judgment last week against landlord Nicholas Keramaris and Melrose property owner MT. V.M. Realty Trust. Keramaris and MT. V.M. allegedly violated the state anti-discrimination law and consumer protection law by posting an advertisement on the website Craigslist.org indicating their unwillingness to rent to families with children because of the lead status of a rental unit.

"Massachusetts law is very clear - landlords cannot avoid their obligations under the state's lead paint laws by refusing to rent to families with young children," Coakley said. "This judgment demonstrates that there are serious consequences for violating anti-discrimination laws."

Coakley's office filed a lawsuit against Keramaris and MT. V.M. in 2010, alleging that the advertisements were discriminatory against families with young children. It is illegal under state law to refuse to rent or steer families away from certain rental properties because they have young children whose presence requires the owner to eliminate lead hazards.

The court ordered Keramaris and MT. V.M. to pay more than $28,000 in attorney fees and costs and $10,000 in civil penalties. The defendants must also stop posting discriminatory advertisements, delead the next two-bedroom apartment in the 20-unit rental property that becomes available for rent that is not yet deleaded and attend fair housing training.

Since 2007, Coakley's office has handled more than 130 lending and housing discrimination cases, providing more than $2.6 million in relief to residents of Massachusetts.

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