For Immediate Release - January 05, 2011

AG Coakley Sues Boston Real Estate Management Company, Agent and Property Owner for Housing Discrimination

BOSTON - A Boston real estate management company, its agent and property owner 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 on January 3, 2011, against Mediate Management Company ("Mediate"), its agent Deborah Kooring, and Fenway Buttrick, LLC, in Suffolk Superior Court alleging that the defendants refused to renew the lease of a family because they reside with a young child whose presence required the defendants to comply with state lead paint laws.

"Anti-discrimination law prohibits landlords and real estate professionals from refusing to rent to prospective tenants because they have children. It further requires them to comply with lead paint laws designed to protect young children from known health hazards," AG Coakley said. "Massachusetts is facing critical housing needs and residents must be treated fairly."

According to the complaint, the tenants lived for many years in an apartment unit owned by Fenway Butrick, LLC and managed by Mediate. In May 2010, the tenants submitted a lease renewal to the defendants and informed them that the tenants recently had a child who would be living with them in the apartment unit. Concerned for their child's well-being, the tenants asked the defendants to inspect the apartment unit for lead paint hazards. The complaint alleges that after learning of the change in the tenants' familial status, Mediate's agent notified the tenants that their lease would not be renewed. Mediate's purported basis for the non-renewal included maximum occupancy limitations and square footage limitations, both of which bases later were shown to be incorrect.

According to the complaint, in late May 2010, the tenants filed a complaint alleging discrimination with the Boston Fair Housing Commission ("BFHC"). The defendants subsequently submitted to a lead paint inspection which revealed high levels of lead paint and required the defendants to abate the lead hazard under Massachusetts lead paint laws.

The Attorney General's Office filed the complaint after the BFHC and the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination ("MCAD") found probable cause that the defendants discriminated against the family. Under state law, the Attorney General's Office is responsible for enforcing fair housing laws and prosecuting housing discrimination cases following probable cause determinations from MCAD. 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.

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

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