Property Owner Settles Claims of Housing Discrimination Against Tenant with Assistance Dog
Owner to Pay $15,000 and Implement New Policies to Avoid Violation of Fair Housing Laws
BOSTON – A property owner from Newton has agreed to pay $15,000 and make extensive policy changes at his businesses, settling allegations that a manager at one of his apartment complexes discriminated against a disabled tenant with an assistance dog, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today.
According to the assurance of discontinuance, filed Thursday in Suffolk Superior Court, Kevin Regan, the property manager at the Lord Baron Apartments in Burlington, allegedly refused to rent to a prospective tenant because she requested permission to reside with an assistance dog. Regan later agreed to rent to the tenant after being contacted by the AG’s Office and informed that his refusal to rent violated fair housing laws. Subsequent to the AG Coakley’s involvement, Regan allegedly threatened the victim with eviction if he received any complaints about her assistance dog.
“People with disabilities must be afforded the same access to quality, affordable housing as any other resident of the Commonwealth,” AG Coakley said. “Failing to make reasonable adjustments to policies and practices in order to accommodate tenants with disabilities violates the law.”
The other defendants named in the assurance are the L.B. Nominee Trust, doing business as the Lord Baron Apartments, and its trustees, Kosow Construction Corporation and owner Marvin P. Kosow, both located in Newton. Regan is a resident of Westwood.
The assurance requires the defendants to pay a total of $15,000 in restitution and penalties to the tenant and the Commonwealth. The Lord Baron Apartments, along with an affiliated property, the Lord Chesterfield Apartments in Framingham, is required to make extensive policy changes to avoid future violations, provide employees with annual fair housing training, and notify the AG’s Office of future requests by disabled tenants for certain accommodations.
Under state law, it is illegal to discriminate against a housing applicant because he or she is disabled. It is also illegal to refuse to permit or to make reasonable modifications of existing premises, or to refuse to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services, if such modifications or accommodations are necessary to afford an occupant with a disability the full enjoyment of the premises.
This matter was handled by Assistant Attorney General Genevieve C. Nadeau and Paralegal Bethany Brown, both of AG Coakley’s Civil Rights Division.