For Immediate Release - July 06, 2012

Landlords Settle Claims of Housing Discrimination

Landlords Accused of Refusing to Rent to Families with Children Agree to Remove Lead Paint from Rental Properties

BOSTON – Multiple landlords have settled allegations that they refused to rent to families with children in order to avoid obligations to remove lead paint hazards, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today.

Under state law, it is illegal to discriminate against housing applicants because they have children or because the rental would require the landlord to abate lead hazards. 

 “The Commonwealth’s lead paint law protects children from the damaging effects of lead, which include impaired development, learning difficulties, and behavior problems,” AG Coakley said. “By enforcing this law our office works to ensure that families with children are able to find lead-safe housing within the Commonwealth.”

Celina Puszko and Alojzy Jackiewicz

According to the complaint filed on June 22, in Suffolk Superior Court, Dorchester property owners Celina Puszko and Alojzy Jackiewicz discriminated against families with children under the age of six by refusing to rent to them in order to avoid their obligation to abate lead paint hazards. Along with the complaint, the parties filed a consent judgment, which was entered by Judge D. Lloyd MacDonald on July 3. The consent judgment requires Puszko and Jackiewicz to delead at least one of their three rental units in Dorchester, to attend fair housing training, and to pay $3,000 in restitution and penalties.  

Gregory Howell and Scott Michels

According to the assurance of discontinuance filed on June 25, Gregory Howell and Scott Michels, who jointly own four rental properties in Bourne, Wareham, and Fairhaven, posted a discriminatory advertisement for one of their Wareham properties on the website Craigslist.org. The advertisement specifically stated that certain families with young children were not eligible to rent the advertised rental property because the property had not been deleaded. Under the terms of the assurance, Howell and Michels agreed to attend fair housing training, delead the property, and pay a penalty of $3,000 to the Commonwealth.

These matters were handled by Assistant Attorney General Genevieve C. Nadeau of AG Coakley’s Civil Rights Division. 

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