For Immediate Release - May 29, 2013

Melrose Landlord and Property Manager Ordered to Pay More Than $38,000 for Discriminatory Craigslist Ad

Court Judgment Requires Defendants to Delead Unit, Attend Fair Housing Training

BOSTON – A Melrose landlord and property manager have been ordered to pay more than $38,000 in a housing discrimination case that resulted from posting a Craigslist advertisement indicating their unwillingness to rent to families with children because of the lead status of a rental unit, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today.

Last week, a civil judgment was entered in Suffolk Superior Court against landlord Nicholas Keramaris and MT. V.M. Realty Trust (MT. V.M.) – the owner of a 20-unit rental property in Melrose – who were found to have violated both the state anti-discrimination law and consumer protection law by posting an advertisement on the popular classified advertising website Craigslist.org stating that an apartment “is not deleaded, therefore it cannot be rented to families with children under six years old.”

“Massachusetts law is very clear – landlords cannot avoid their obligations under the state’s lead paint laws by refusing to rent to families with young children,” AG Coakley said. “This judgment demonstrates that there are serious consequences for violating anti-discrimination laws.”

In 2010, the AG’s Office filed a complaint against Keramaris and MT. V.M., alleging that their advertisements were discriminatory against families with young children. Under Massachusetts law, it is illegal to refuse to rent or steer families away from rental properties because they have young children whose presence triggers an owner’s duty to eliminate lead hazards that pose serious health risks.

The Court has ordered Keramaris and MT. V.M. to pay a civil penalty of $10,000, and more than $28,000 in attorneys’ fees and costs. They have also been ordered to cease from posting any discriminatory advertisements, and delead the next two-bedroom apartment in the building that becomes available for rent that is not yet deleaded. Additionally, both Nicholas Keramaris and George Keramaris, the trustee, are required to attend fair housing training.

Attorney General Coakley’s office works to ensure that the civil rights and liberties of visitors and residents of the Commonwealth are 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. Since 2007, the AG’s Office has handled more than 130 housing and lending discrimination cases, resulting in more than $2.6 million in relief to Massachusetts residents.

This matter was handled by Jonathan B. Miller, Chief of AG Coakley’s Civil Rights Division, with assistance from Andrew Koster, an Assistant Attorney General in AG Coakley’s Trial Division.    

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