For Immediate Release - October 23, 2013

Housing Companies Resolve Disability Discrimination Claims

Defendants to Pay a Total of $11,200; Agree to Implement New Fair Housing Policies

BOSTON – An Arlington property management company and a real estate firm in Boston have recently agreed to pay a total of $11,200 and implement new policies to avoid future fair housing violations, resolving allegations of discrimination against disabled individuals, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today.

Under the two separate assurances of discontinuance, recently filed in Suffolk Superior Court, both defendants must provide reasonable accommodations in a timely manner to tenants or clients in Massachusetts and their employees must attend training on fair housing laws.

“Individuals with disabilities must be afforded the same access to quality housing and services as any other resident of the Commonwealth,” AG Coakley said. “We expect housing providers to take reasonable steps to accommodate individuals with disabilities, and are pleased that these settlements will help implement new policy changes.”

According to one of the settlements, Davidson Management Company, LLC (Davidson) must pay $2,500 dollars to a tenant of its 31-unit apartment complex on Jason Street in Arlington after failing to engage in a dialogue about the impact of smoking by other residents on the tenant’s medical condition.  Davidson, which operates approximately 30 buildings and 300 residential units in Massachusetts, will also pay an additional $1,200 to the tenant to cover moving expenses, if she decides to vacate her apartment.

Under the terms of the settlement, Davidson will ensure the enforcement of its no smoking policy at the apartment complex, will implement a comprehensive reasonable accommodation policy for all of its buildings, and train its entire staff on fair housing laws.

According to another fair housing settlement reached by the AG’s Office, A. F. Doyle Company, Inc., a real estate company located on Newbury Street in Boston, allegedly engaged in discriminatory housing practices by failing to provide services to a person with a physical disability.

The AG’s Office alleges that in March 2013, a “housing tester” used to uncover discriminatory practices for the Suffolk University Law School Housing Discrimination Testing Program, arrived outside the building, but because it does not have architectural access, the tester with a mobility impairment could not enter the premises. When a friend of the tester went inside and asked for assistance from a real estate agent, the agent allegedly declined to go outside and assist the tester.  A.F. Doyle agreed to pay $2,500 in restitution to Suffolk University, implement new reasonable accommodation policies, and obtain training for its employees.

Both defendants have also been required to each pay the Commonwealth $2,500, which is suspended pending compliance with the settlements.

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 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.

These matters were handled by Jonathan Miller and Bethany Brown, both of AG Coakley’s Civil Rights Division.


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