For Immediate Release - February 12, 2010

Attorney General Martha Coakley's Office Obtains Consent Judgment Against Cambridge Realtor Accused of Discriminating Against Section 8 Recipient

BOSTON - Attorney General Martha Coakley's Office has obtained a consent judgment resolving a housing discrimination case against Michael Kanter and his former employer Apartment Rental Experts, LLC, who are accused of violating state anti-discrimination laws by refusing to rent an apartment to a Cambridge resident because he participates in the Section 8 housing subsidy program.

The judgment, signed today by Suffolk Superior Court Judge Charles T. Spurlock, requires Kanter, of Acton, and Apartment Rental Experts, which has offices in Cambridge and Somerville, to pay the victim $8,500 and prohibits them from discriminating against any person who applies for housing with a Section 8 voucher, or otherwise discriminating against any person in violation of state and federal fair housing laws.

"Housing subsidy programs provide invaluable assistance to thousands of low income tenants in Massachusetts. These programs are particularly important during these difficult economic times as families are facing job losses and critical housing needs," said Attorney General Coakley. "Landlords in Massachusetts should understand that discrimination against prospective tenants who receive public assistance is against the law and will not be tolerated."

According to the complaint filed on February 3, 2010, Kanter, a real estate agent who worked for Apartment Rental Experts, told the prospective tenant that a seemingly well-kept Cambridge apartment building required repairs to be compliant with the Section 8 program and that that the owner would not make the repairs. Kanter also told the prospective tenant that there is a "stigma" attached to the Section 8 program and that he did not want to waste his time on an application that would not be accepted. Under Massachusetts law, it is illegal to refuse to rent to a prospective tenant because the tenant is a participant in a housing subsidy program, such as Section 8, or to avoid any of the requirements of such a program. It is also illegal to make a statement indicating a preference, limitation or discrimination against a recipient of a Section 8 subsidy.

Today's judgment also requires Kanter to attend training on state and federal fair housing laws and for Apartment Rental Experts to provide training to employees involved in renting property two times per year, as well as to distribute anti-discrimination materials to all such employees. Kanter and Apartment Rental Experts also must advertise any future rental property as "Equal Housing Opportunity" properties, maintain a record of rental applicants submitted by prospective tenants, and report all discrimination complaints to the Attorney General's Office.

This matter was handled by Assistant Attorney General Adam Hollingsworth of Attorney General Coakley's Civil Rights Division.