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Rental company paying up in discrimination suit

By Bryan Cohen | May 13, 2011


BOSTON (Legal Newsline) - Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley announced a consent judgment on Thursday with rental property owner AvalonBay Communities Inc., over alleged discrimination of a tenant with young children.

A complaint filed in Suffolk Superior Court on Wednesday alleged that beginning in November 2009, a tenant at Avalon made repeated, unreasonable and unsubstantiated complaints about noise made by another tenant's children. The alleged offending tenant made efforts to address the concerns, but Avalon allegedly served the tenant with a notice to evict the tenant and her two small children.

The complaint alleges that the neighbor complained about noise when the children were not even in the apartment. Avalon is accused of engaging in discrimination against a family with children, which is a violation of federal and state fair housing laws.

Avalon, the owner and operator of 26 rental properties in the commonwealth, has agreed to make payments to the victim and institute a broad range of preventive measures to ensure future compliance with the law.

"Parents with small children should not be subjected to additional burdens or barriers in housing rentals," Coakley said. "Realtors, brokers and landlords in Massachusetts must understand that discrimination against families with young children is illegal and we will seek to hold accountable those who break the law."

Under the terms of the consent judgment, Avalon is required to make payments totaling $6,500 to the victim and the commonwealth. As part of the agreement, Avalon will implement improved training and will adjust its best practices to ensure future compliance with the law. In addition, Avalon must provide Coakley's office with written certification that it has implemented the changes.

Under state and federal housing laws, it is illegal to discriminate against an individual or family seeking housing status because of a person's familial status, race, color, sex, religion, national origin or handicap/disability.

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