For Immediate Release - September 27, 2011

AG Coakley Obtains Consent Judgment Resolving Housing Discrimination Allegations Against Saugus Real Estate Company Involving Postings on Craigslist

BOSTON - A settlement has been reached with a Saugus real estate company resolving allegations that it posted rental advertisements on Cragislist.org (Craigslist) that discriminated against prospective tenants with children or who received rental assistance, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today.

The Consent Judgment, entered by Suffolk Superior Court Judge Nancy Staffier Holtz against Eastern Property Management, Inc. (Eastern Property), orders a broad range of relief and preventive measures to ensure the company's future compliance with state and federal fair housing laws. Under the terms of the Consent Judgment, Eastern Property Management will pay $10,000 to the Commonwealth, with $3,000 suspended pending compliance with the Consent Judgment. This judgment is the result of a continuing statewide investigation by the AG's Office into reports of widespread discriminatory housing advertisements on the Internet.

"Massachusetts law prohibits real estate professionals from placing discriminatory housing advertisements," AG Coakley said. "It is illegal to post an advertisement that discriminates against individuals with children or who receive rental assistance. Those in the business of renting residential properties must comply with state anti-discrimination and consumer protection laws."

According to the complaint filed in June 2010, Eastern Property allegedly violated state anti-discrimination, consumer protection, and lead paint laws by posting advertisements on the website Craigslist which stated that the advertised rental unit was not available to applicants with children under the age of six or with Section 8 vouchers. The complaint further alleges that when an Investigator from the AG's Office contacted Eastern Property and posed as a father with a young child, he was steered away from renting the advertised property and told that he would have to sign a release form before he could rent the property. Under Massachusetts law, it is illegal to post advertisements which indicate a discriminatory bias against persons with children or who receive rental assistance.

The Consent Judgment further requires Eastern Property and its employees and agents to abide by federal and state fair housing and anti-discrimination laws; complete training on state and federal fair housing laws; adopt and implement anti-discrimination policies; and notify the Civil Rights Division of any housing discrimination complaints for the next three years.

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.

This matter was handled by Assistant Attorneys General Patricio Rossi and Gabrielle Viator of Attorney General Coakley's Civil Rights Division.

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