- Office of Attorney General Maura Healey
Media Contact for In Recognition of Fair Housing Month, AG Healey Announces Resolutions in Four Housing Discrimination Cases
BOSTON — In recognition of Fair Housing Month, Attorney General Maura Healey today announced resolutions her office reached in four housing discrimination cases, in which prospective tenants were refused housing from real estate brokers and agencies based on their receipt of public assistance.
The four settlements resolve allegations that Realty Executives Boston West, Haynes Family LLC / Haynes Management, Success Real Estate, Inc, We Close The Deal LLC, and Wright Real Estate LLC, violated state fair housing and consumer protection laws by illegally denying people an opportunity to rent an apartment because of their receipt of public assistance through the federal Section 8 housing voucher program. Section 8 assists low-income residents with finding affordable rental housing within the private market. These resolutions are a continuation of AG Healey’s ongoing efforts to address widespread housing discrimination that impacts Black, brown, low-income and disabled residents in Massachusetts.
“Rental assistance programs play a critical role in ensuring economic stability for families and residents across Massachusetts – especially our underserved and disadvantaged communities,” said AG Healey. “These resolutions send a message that the housing industry cannot refuse to rent to residents because of who they are or whether they receive public assistance, and my office will take action against those who do.”
Realty Executives Boston West
In 2019, a woman was searching for an apartment on behalf of her adult son, who has a disability and receives public assistance, when she contacted a broker with Realty Executives Boston West about a prospective location in Ashland. The AG’s Office alleges that when asked if the property owner would rent to a tenant with a Section 8 voucher, the broker informed the woman that the owner would not consider such tenants for the apartment. The broker also claimed he had forwarded her application to the owner, and later, told her that the application had been rejected. The woman later learned that the broker had not sent her application to the owner of the apartment, and that the owner had no issue with renting to tenants with Section 8 vouchers.
The case was referred to the AG’s Office after the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) investigated and found probable cause that the broker illegally discriminated against the woman’s son because of his disability and because of his source of income.
Under the terms of the settlement, Realty Executives Boston have agreed to pay $15,000 in restitution and undergo fair housing training, add affirmative fair housing statements in advertising, including language that is inclusive and encourages residents with housing subsidies to apply, and to adopt a fair housing policy.
This case was handled by Deputy Chief Shafaq Islam of AG Healey’s Civil Rights Division.
Haynes Family LLC and Haynes Management, Inc.
The AG’s Office alleges that in January 2021, a family with an enhanced housing subsidy was looking for a new home. A housing counselor who was working with the family contacted Haynes Management about a property owned by Haynes Family LLC in Wellesley. Haynes Management staff informed the housing counselor that they did not take Section 8 vouchers. The housing counselor subsequently reported the refusal to the Attorney General’s Office, which investigated.
Under the terms of the settlement, the Haynes entities have agreed to develop and implement a fair housing policy, train staff on fair housing laws, add fair housing language to rental advertisements, and advertise rental units on commonly used internet sites in order to increase visibility of rental properties, including to prospective tenants with Section 8 vouchers. Haynes will also be prohibited from imposing a minimum income requirement on a tenant if the tenant receives a rental or housing subsidy. The Haynes entities also paid $25,000 in restitution and penalties.
This case was handled by Assistant Attorneys General Ann Lynch and Jonathan Burke, both of the AG’s Civil Rights Division.
Success Real Estate, LLC
The AG’s Office alleges that in July 2019, a woman was looking for housing for her son, who has a disability, and is also a recipient of housing assistance through the Section 8 program. After finding a listing in Canton, the woman reached out to the real estate broker for the property from Success Real Estate Inc., who allegedly illegally stated that the property owner was not interested in working with individuals receiving Section 8 assistance because of the paperwork involved. While the tenant’s mother was ultimately able to tour the unit and submit an application, the AG’s Office alleges that the application was promptly rejected, and the unit was rented to other tenants.
The case was referred to the AG’s Office after MCAD investigated and found probable cause that the broker illegally discriminated against the prospective tenant because of his receipt of public assistance.
The AG’s Office has previously settled with Success Real Estate for publishing advertisements for rental apartments throughout the South Shore area that included discriminatory statements based on familial status, source of income, and disability.
Under the terms of the settlement, the defendants have agreed to attend fair housing training, and pay $13,000 to the woman for the above-mentioned claims.
The case was handled by Deputy Chief Shafaq Islam of the AG’s Civil Rights Division.
The Wright Real Estate LLC and We Close The Deal LLC
The AG’s Office alleges that a prospective tenant looking for an apartment to rent in Boston was illegally discriminated against by Wright Real Estate LLC, and We Close The Deal LLC, based on their source of income – specifically on their usage of Section 8. The tenant filed a complaint with the Boston Fair Housing Commission, which determined and found cause to believe that Wright Real Estate and We Close The Deal refused to rent to the tenant and subjected them to different terms and conditions, based on their source of income.
Under the terms of the settlement, the two real estate companies have agreed to comply and abide by all Massachusetts fair housing and antidiscrimination laws, revise existing policies to ensure they are in complaint with states laws, attend fair housing and antidiscrimination training, and provide $10,000 to the affected victim.
The case was handled by Deputy Chief Shafaq Islam, of the AG’s Civil Rights Division.
The Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office is committed to enforcing the state’s fair housing law and encourages those who have concerns about housing discrimination to call the office’s Civil Rights Division at 617-963-2917 or to file a complaint online.