For Immediate Release - November 02, 2009

Attorney General Martha Coakley Reaches Settlement with East Boston Landlord Resolving Allegations of Housing Discrimination

BOSTON - Attorney General Martha Coakley's Office reached a settlement with an East Boston landlord, resolving allegations that he unfairly discriminated against prospective tenants, denying them the opportunity to rent an apartment. The Assurance of Discontinuance, filed in Suffolk Superior Court on October 30, 2009, against Russell Tremaine, the landlord, alleges that he violated state anti-discrimination and lead paint laws by denying a couple with a young child the right to rent an apartment in East Boston because of the presence of lead paint.

"It is against the law to deny a family the opportunity to rent an apartment because the family has a child under six, which would require the landlord to abate or remove any lead paint from the unit and common areas. Those who choose to be landlords and participate in the rental market must play by the rules and abide by the laws meant to ensure people's health and safety," said Attorney General Martha Coakley. "Particularly in the current economic climate where more families are forced to rent homes, they must not be wrongfully denied access to safe housing."

The complaint, filed in March 2009, alleges that Tremaine told the prospective tenants that he would not de-lead the unit, and thus, would not rent it to them and their child. Under Massachusetts law, it is illegal to refuse to rent to a prospective tenant with young children due to the presence of lead paint in the rental unit. It is also illegal to discriminate against renters because of their familial status or because they have children. The Attorney General's Office recently issued and made available an Advisory to tenants, owners and real estate professionals to inform them of their rights and obligations under Massachusetts Lead Paint and Anti-discrimination laws in an effort to prevent discriminatory practices in the future. The Advisory is available on the Attorney General's website pdf format of 2009_10_28_craigslist_initiative_attachment1.pdf

The Assurance of Discontinuance requires Tremaine to abide by federal and state fair housing and anti-discrimination laws; receive fair housing training; notify the Civil Rights Division of any discrimination complaints for the next three years; de-lead the unit and common areas; and pay $2,500 to the Lead Action Collaborative.

This matter was handled by Assistant Attorney General Patricio S. Rossi of Attorney General Coakley's Civil Rights Division.