For Immediate Release - September 17, 2009

Attorney General Martha Coakley's Office Reaches Settlement with Waltham Real Estate Company That Allegedly Discriminated Against Woman with a Section 8 Subsidy

BOSTON- Attorney General Martha Coakley's Office entered into a settlement with a Waltham based real estate company resolving allegations that the company refused to rent to a woman because she had a Section 8 housing subsidy to pay a portion of the rent. The Assurance of Discontinuance filed in Suffolk Superior Court on September 15, 2009, against Chiccarelli Real Estate, Inc., orders the company to assist the woman to find an apartment and pay a portion of the rental cost. The Assurance of Discontinuance also bars Chiccarelli Real Estate from discriminating in the future.

"It is illegal to refuse to rent an apartment to persons holding state or federal housing subsidies," said Attorney General Coakley. "Massachusetts landlords, real estate companies and others involved in the rental property business must abide by Massachusetts law prohibiting discrimination against persons with state of federal housing subsidies. These laws are important to ensuring equal housing opportunities."

According to the complaint sent to the Attorney General's Office, the woman was told by an employee of Chiccarelli Real Estate that they had too many Section 8 vouchers already and could not take any more. The Fair Housing Center of Greater Boston tested the company the next day and two testers spoke to another employee at Chiccarelli Real Estate who is alleged to have refused to rent for the same reason.

The resolution also requires Chiccarelli Real Estate personnel to attend fair housing training and implement non-discrimination policies. The Assurance of Discontinuance further requires Chiccarelli Real Estate to advertise as equal housing opportunity real estate agents and report complaints to the Attorney General's office.

The Massachusetts Anti-Discrimination Act prohibits real estate companies, agents, landlords and others involved in property rentals, from discriminating against people with state or federal housing subsidies.

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