- Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination
- Suffolk University Law School Housing Discrimination Testing Program (HDTP)
Media Contact for Boston Rental Housing Company Agrees to Address Allegations of Discriminatory Practices
H Harrison, Assistant to the Commissioners
Boston — The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD), following a joint effort with the Suffolk University Law School Housing Discrimination Testing Program (HDTP), has entered into a consent decree with Boston’s Prestige Rental Solutions. The consent decree addresses allegations that Prestige Rental Solutions discriminated against families with young children seeking rentals.
At the request of the MCAD, testers from Suffolk University Law School’s Housing Discrimination Testing Program (HDTP), most of them Suffolk Law students, posed as renters with children and contacted the Allston and Jamaica Plain offices of Paul Linder, the owner of Prestige Rental Solutions. The testers reported that they were refused information about advertised rentals by one of Prestige’s licensed agents and steered away from apartments that were not de-leaded, according to officials from the HDTP and MCAD.
Based on the results of the testing, the MCAD initiated a formal complaint and investigation into the leasing practices of the company’s offices and MCAD Commissioner Sheila A. Hubbard determined there was sufficient evidence to support the allegations of housing discrimination under state and federal anti-discrimination laws. The rental company consented to cease any discriminatory leasing practices, make a charitable donation of $6,000 to Suffolk’s testing program, and send agents to fair housing training.
“I am heartened that Respondent Prestige Rental has agreed to remediate their past conduct through fair housing training and pledged to ensure their leasing practices do not violate Massachusetts law,” said Commissioner Hubbard. “Real estate companies and others involved in renting properties must abide by Massachusetts General Law Chapter 151B. This law is specifically intended to combat discrimination against families with young children and to protect the health and safety of the Commonwealth’s youngest and vulnerable residents against lead poisoning from properties on the market that are not de-leaded.”
William Berman, clinical professor of law at Suffolk Law School and director of Suffolk’s Housing Discrimination Testing Program said Massachusetts’ Lead Paint Statute requires landlords who rent to families with children under the age of 6 to make property lead-safe. A refusal to rent to families with children, in an attempt to avoid compliance with the lead paint law, is illegal discrimination, he said.
"We need to change the culture in Massachusetts as to discrimination against families with children.” Berman added. “This type of discrimination is rampant and causes great harm to people who are turned away from their preferred place to live just because of the makeup of their family. Suffolk’s Housing Discrimination Testing Program is at the forefront of the fight against harmful discrimination. We are conducting testing, bringing enforcement actions, training thousands in their fair housing rights and conducting academic studies related to fair housing.” Berman noted that HDTP test evidence routinely uncovers discrimination against families with children. Prospective tenants often are told that a unit isn't available to them because of their kids or the presence of lead paint.
Commissioner Hubbard was assisted by the following MCAD staff: Commission Counsel Simone R. Liebman, Attorney Advisor Ethan C. Crawford, Director of Housing and Testing Eric Bove, and Chief of Investigations, Heather E. Hall.