For Immediate Release - May 12, 2011

AG Coakley Resolves Housing Discrimination Lawsuit Against AvalonBay Communities

BOSTON - Facing a civil rights lawsuit for attempting to evict a tenant and her small children from its Woburn apartment, AvalonBay Communities, Inc. ("Avalon") has agreed to make payments to the victim and institute a broad range of preventive measures to ensure future compliance with the law, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today. Avalon is the owner and operator of 26 rental properties in the Commonwealth.

"Parents with small children should not be subjected to additional burdens or barriers in housing rentals," AG Coakley said. "Realtors, brokers and landlords in Massachusetts must understand that discrimination against families with young children is illegal and we will seek to hold accountable those who break the law."

According to the complaint filed yesterday in Suffolk Superior Court, beginning in November 2009, a neighbor repeatedly made unreasonable and unsubstantiated complaints about noise made by another tenant's children. The Attorney General's investigation revealed that this tenant had taken steps to address the concerns, enrolling her children in additional daycare and keeping her children out of the apartment for long periods of time on the weekends. The complaint alleges that the neighbor complained about noise when the children were not even in the apartment.

The complaint further alleges that instead of investigating the complaints, Avalon served the tenant with a notice to evict her and her two small children, ages two and four. Avalon is accused of engaging in discrimination against a family with children in violation of state and federal fair housing laws.

Under the terms of the consent judgment, approved late yesterday by Suffolk Superior Court Judge Elizabeth M. Fahey, Avalon is required to make payments totaling $6,500 to the victim and to the Commonwealth. Avalon has agreed to implement improved training and to adjust its best practices to ensure future compliance with the law. Avalon must also provide the Attorney General's Office with written certification that it has implemented the changes.

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 Attorney General Jonathan Miller of Attorney General Coakley's Civil Rights Division.