For Immediate Release - August 31, 2010

AG Coakley Sues North Chelmsford Real Estate Company and Agent for Housing Discrimination

WOBURN - A North Chelmsford real estate company and its agent have been sued for violating state anti-discrimination law, Attorney General Martha Coakley's Office announced. The Attorney General's Office filed a housing discrimination complaint yesterday against Prime Properties, Inc., and its agent, Joan Eident, in Middlesex Superior Court alleging that the defendants refused to rent to a single mother because she has a young child.

"The Commonwealth's anti-discrimination law prohibits landlords and real estate professionals from refusing to rent to prospective tenants because they have children," AG Coakley said. "Massachusetts is facing critical housing needs and compliance with these laws is of the upmost importance in ensuring that residents are afforded the fair treatment and equal opportunity that they deserve."

According to the complaint, Eident contacted the prospective tenant in October 2009, in response to her phone and email inquiries to an online advertisement for housing in North Chelmsford. The complaint alleges that during a conversation with Eident, the prospective tenant told the agent that she had a young daughter that would be living with her, at which time Eident told her that she could not live in the property because she had a child. The complaint further alleges that in November 2009, Eident told a tester from the Fair Housing Center of Greater Boston that children were not allowed in the units in North Chelmsford. That same day, she made an appointment to meet with a different tester who had made no mention of children.

In June 2010, in response to the prospective tenant's complaint, the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination found probable cause that discrimination had occurred on the basis that the victim had a child. The Attorney General's Office is seeking injunctive relief and damages for the victims pursuant to the defendants' alleged discriminatory and unlawful housing practices.

As an advocate for victim and consumer rights, Attorney General Coakley's office works to ensure that the civil rights and liberties of visitors and residents of the Commonwealth are preserved and protected. Under federal and state fair housing laws, 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, or handicap/disability. These laws also prohibit discrimination in advertising, public housing, and actions taken by realtors, landlords, mortgage lenders and brokers. Since taking office in January 2007, Attorney General Coakley's office has obtained judgments in 91 housing discrimination cases brought against landlords, property managers, and/or real estate companies.

This matter is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Patricio Rossi, of AG Coakley's Civil Rights Division.

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