For Immediate Release - August 06, 2012

Real Estate Management Firm Sued for Housing Discrimination

Property Manager Accused of Refusing Housing to Recipient of Federal Housing Assistance

BOSTON – A Boston-based real estate management company, its property manager, and an Arlington property owner have been sued for violating the state’s anti-discrimination law for allegedly refusing to rent to a recipient of a federal housing subsidy, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today.

Under state law, it is illegal to discriminate against housing applicants because they receive public assistance. 

“We are facing critical affordable housing needs in the Commonwealth and the strain on those needing rental or transitional housing assistance is particularly great,” AG Coakley said.  “Discrimination against those receiving housing assistance subsidies is illegal and realtors, brokers and landlords must operate within the bounds of the law.”

According to the complaint filed in Middlesex Superior Court against The Hamilton Company, Inc., Nostalgia Properties LLC, and Nicholas Rivers, the defendants allegedly refused to rent to a prospective tenant because he intended to use a Section 8 affordable housing voucher to pay for the rent. 

The Hamilton Company is a full-service real estate management firm with a portfolio of more than 60 residential properties in Massachusetts, including a rental apartment complex on Brattle Drive in Arlington, owned by Nostalgia Properties. According to the complaint Rivers, the Hamilton Company’s property manager, placed several advertisements for available one-bedroom rental units at the complex in November 2011. On two separate occasions, Rivers withheld information about available rental units and failed to negotiate with a prospective tenant who informed him that he had a Section 8 voucher.

Housing discrimination includes refusing to rent or sell, failing or refusing to negotiate, withholding information about available housing accommodations, falsely representing that housing accommodations are unavailable, or imposing different terms or conditions for housing accommodations. 

The AG’s Office filed the complaint after the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) found probable cause that the defendants had unlawfully discriminated against the prospective tenant. The AG’s Office is responsible for enforcing fair housing laws and prosecuting housing discrimination cases following probable cause determinations from the MCAD.

The AG’s Office is seeking injunctive relief, damages for the victim, and punitive damages. 

This matter is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Genevieve C. Nadeau of AG Coakley’s Civil Rights Division.

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