For Immediate Release - July 27, 2010

AG Coakley Obtains Consent Judgment Against Landlord for Alleged Posting of Discriminatory Housing Advertisement on Craigslist

Judgment obtained in statewide investigation into discriminatory Internet advertising

NEW BEDFORD - A consent judgment has been obtained against a South Dartmouth landlord resolving allegations that he made discriminatory statements in rental advertisements posted on the popular classified advertising website ("Craigslist"), Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today.

The judgment, signed on July 19, 2010 by Bristol Superior Court Judge Richard T. Moses, against Jason Griffith provides a broad range of relief and preventive measures to ensure his future compliance with state and federal fair housing laws. This judgment is the result of a continuing statewide investigation by the Attorney General's Office into reports of widespread discriminatory housing advertisements on the Internet.

"Compliance with our anti-discrimination laws is an important obligation for landlords and real estate professionals and they must recognize that discrimination in any form will not be tolerated in Massachusetts," AG Coakley said. "Our office will continue to monitor Craigslist and take action against persons and entities that violate the law."

Since October 2009, the Attorney General's Office has reached 27 settlements and filed 6 complaints against landlords and real estate companies and agents across the Commonwealth accused of violating state fair housing and consumer protection laws by posting discriminatory ads on Craigslist. According to the complaint filed in Bristol Superior Court, Griffith placed an advertisement on Craigslist in April 2009 for an apartment in South Dartmouth that said "no Section 8." The Massachusetts Anti-Discrimination Act prohibits real estate companies, agents, landlords and others involved in property rentals, from discriminating against people who use state or federal housing subsidies to pay for all or a portion of their rent.

The consent judgment requires Griffith to attend training on state and federal fair housing laws and prohibits him from placing discriminatory advertisements or otherwise discriminating against any person who seeks or applies for housing because they are a member of a protected class. The consent judgment also requires Griffith to advertise any future rental property as "Equal Housing Opportunity" properties. Griffith must also pay $1,150 to the Local Consumer Aid Fund.

As an advocate for civil rights and consumer protections, Attorney General Coakley's office works to ensure that anti-discrimination laws are enforced. Under state fair housing law, it is illegal to discriminate against an individual or a family seeking housing because of a person's race, color, religion, sex, familial status (e.g. children or marital status), national origin, disability, or because they receive public assistance or seek to use a voucher to pay for all or a portion of their rent. These laws also prohibit discrimination in advertising. Since taking office in January 2007, Attorney General Coakley's office has obtained judgments in 90 housing discrimination cases brought against landlords, property managers, and/or real estate companies.

This matter was handled by Assistant Attorney General Jeanne M. Veenstra of Attorney General Coakley's Civil Rights Division.