Cambridge Landlord to Pay $25,000 to Settle Claims of Housing Discrimination and Retaliation Against a Family
Trust Accused of Failing to Remove Lead Paint Hazards
BOSTON – The owner of an apartment building in Cambridge has agreed to pay $25,000 to settle allegations that a former trustee and property manager discriminated against a family with a young child to avoid an obligation to remove lead paint hazards and later retaliated against the family for filing a discrimination complaint, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today.
The consent judgment, entered Tuesday in Suffolk Superior Court, requires Ware Hall Trust, the owner of the 60-unit apartment building in Cambridge, to relocate the family and delead the apartment where they currently reside. The Trust recently paid more than $29,000 owed on a judgment obtained by the AG’s Office and the City of Cambridge when they brought suit to enforce an order by the Cambridge Human Rights Commission (CHRC) regarding the initial discrimination allegations.
“The Commonwealth’s lead paint law protects children from the damaging effects of lead including impaired development and learning difficulties,” AG Coakley said. “We must ensure that families with children have access to lead-safe housing and are not discriminated against for asserting their rights under the law.”
The complaint, filed in Suffolk Superior Court in September 2011, alleges that the Ware Hall Trust and Marina Kaufman, its former trustee, disproportionately increased the family’s monthly rent, refused to accept rental payments, refused to renew their lease and failed to abate lead hazards in the family’s apartment. The building’s former superintendent also allegedly harassed the family after they filed a complaint with the CHRC.
Under the terms of the settlement, Ware Hall Trust will pay $25,000, including $10,000 to the City of Cambridge, $5,000 to the family, and $10,000 to the Commonwealth. The settlement also requires all employees to attend fair housing training.
Under the state’s anti-discrimination law, it is illegal to discriminate against tenants because they have children or because the rental would require the landlord to abate lead hazards. It is also illegal for a landlord to retaliate against tenants because they have asserted their rights under the lead paint and anti-discrimination laws.
This matter was handled by Assistant Attorney General Gabrielle Viator of AG Coakley’s Civil Rights Division.