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Coakley alleges discrimination against real estate company

By Bryan Cohen | Aug 7, 2012


BOSTON (Legal Newsline) - Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley filed a lawsuit on Monday against a Boston-based real estate management company, its property manager and an Arlington property owner for alleged violations of the state's anti-discrimination law.

The lawsuit against The Hamilton Company Inc., Nostalgia Properties LLC and Nicholas Rivers alleges that the defendants violated the law by refusing to rent to a recipient of a federal housing subsidy. It is illegal under Massachusetts law to discriminate against housing applicants because they receive public assistance.

"We are facing critical affordable housing needs in the commonwealth and the strain on those needing rental or transitional housing assistance is particularly great," Coakley said. "Discrimination against those receiving housing assistance subsidies is illegal and realtors, brokers and landlords must operate within the bounds of the law."

The defendants allegedly refused to rent to a prospective tenant because he planned to use a Section 8 affordable housing voucher to pay the rent.

The Hamilton Company is a full-service real estate management firm that has a portfolio of more than 60 residential properties in the state, including a rental apartment complex in Arlington that is owned by Nostalgia Properties.

Nicholas Rivers, the property manager at Hamilton Company, placed multiple advertisements for available one bedroom rental units at the complex in November. Rivers allegedly withheld information about available rental units and failed to negotiate with a prospective tenant who informed him he had a Section 8 voucher on two different occasions.

Coakley's office filed the lawsuit after the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination found probable cause that the defendants engaged in unlawful discrimination against the prospective tenant.

The lawsuit seeks punitive damages, damages for the victim and injunctive relief.

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