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A Boston-area 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.

The owner of the 20-unit rental property in Melrose was found to have violated both the state anti-discrimination law and consumer protection law by posting an ad on Craigslist stating that an apartment €œis not deleaded, therefore it cannot be rented to families with children under six years old.€

€œMassachusetts 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,€ Attorney General Martha Coakley said. €œThis judgment demonstrates that there are serious consequences for violating anti-discrimination laws.€

In 2010, the AG€„¢s Office filed a complaint against the owner and manager 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 landlord and manager were ordered to pay a civil penalty of $10,000 and $28,000 in attorneys’ fees and costs. They also have been prohibited from posting any discriminatory ads, must delead the next two-bedroom apartment in the building that becomes available for rent, and attend fair housing training.

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