For Immediate Release - September 01, 2009

Attorney General Martha Coakley Settles with Cambridge Real Estate Company That Discriminated Against Family with Young Child

WOBURN - Attorney General Martha Coakley's office obtained a consent judgment against ABG Residential, a Cambridge-based realty company, and its agent, Georgina Zala, resolving claims that the company refused to rent an apartment to a couple because they had a nine-month old child whose presence would require abatement of lead paint hazards under state law. The consent judgment, entered yesterday by Judge Thomas Billings in Middlesex Superior Court, orders the defendants to pay $3,500 to the couple 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 yesterday by the Commonwealth, the couple responded to an apartment rental advertisement posted on Craigslist by the defendants by contacting an agent at ABG Residential, formerly known as Inman Realty. The complaint alleges that when the couple spoke with ABG Residential's agent, the agent told them that the company would not rent to anyone with a child under the age of six and abruptly cancelled the appointment to view the apartment. Further investigation revealed that the advertised apartment was not de-leaded and therefore would have required the property owner to abate the lead prior to renting the apartment.

The settlement also requires the defendants to attend fair housing training and implement non-discriminatory 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.