For Immediate Release - November 10, 2009

Attorney General Martha Coakley Enters into Settlement to Address Alleged Discrimination Against a Woman and Her Young Child by a Boston Real Estate Company

BOSTON - Attorney General Martha Coakley's office obtained a consent judgment against City Realty Group, LLC, a Boston-based realty company, and its agent, Matthew A. Rose, resolving claims that the company refused to rent an apartment to a tester from the Boston Fair Housing Commission posing as a woman with a three-year old child whose presence would require abatement of lead paint hazards under state law. The consent judgment, entered by Judge MaryLou Muirhead in Boston Housing Court, orders the defendants to pay a total of $5,000 to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the Boston-based Lead Action Collaborative and bars the defendants from future acts of discrimination.

"It is illegal to refuse to rent an apartment to a family with young children or to steer prospective tenants away from properties that may contain lead paint," said Attorney General Coakley. "Massachusetts landlords, real estate companies and others involved in the rental property business need to abide by important state laws that are designed to combat discrimination and protect the health and safety of our children."

According to the complaint filed by the Commonwealth on February 20, 2009, the fair housing tester inquired about an apartment advertised by City Realty Group on Craigslist. After the tester informed the agent that she had a three-year old child, the agent refused to show her the apartment unless she agreed to sign a waiver that purported to absolve the owner of the unit from liability due to any lead paint found in the apartment.

The settlement also requires the defendants to attend fair housing training and implement non-discrimination policies. The consent judgment further requires the defendants to advertise as equal housing opportunity real estate agents and maintain records of those apartments that they advertise that contain lead paint.

The Massachusetts Anti-Discrimination Act prohibits real estate companies, agents, landlords and others involved in property rentals, from discriminating against families. In addition, the Massachusetts Lead Paint Statute requires landlords who rent to families with children under the age of six to abate lead hazards in a rental unit in order to prevent lead poisoning. It is illegal to discriminate against families with children in order to avoid compliance with the lead paint law.

This matter was handled by Assistant Attorney General Alan Jay Rom of Attorney General Coakley's Civil Rights Division.