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Home · Property Management · Latest News : Landlord Liable for Tenant’s Bullying

apartment for rent photoA Worcester, Massachusetts landlord has agreed to settle a legal claim brought after he failed to respond to complaints by African American tenants that they were being harassed by other tenants.

State Attorney General Martha Coakleys Office handled the case.

The landlord was accused of violating state anti-discrimination laws by failing to take action against other tenants in the same building who allegedly threatened, harassed and made racially discriminatory statements toward the African American family.

According to the family members, their upstairs neighbors repeatedly used racial slurs towards them and threatened them with physical assault. They said that they reported these behaviors to the landlord on several occasions, but he did nothing to stop it.

Landlords in Massachusetts have an obligation to ensure that tenants live in housing free from acts of discriminatory conduct and must take action to address discriminatory acts caused by other tenants, according to the Attorney General’s office.

In anticipation of settlement of the claims, the landlord has already completed training on federal and Massachusetts fair housing laws. In addition, he is required to include Equal Housing Opportunity notifications in any rental advertisements for the next three years; notify the Attorney Generals Civil Rights Division of any discrimination complaints made against him in the next three years; keep records for the next three years of all advertisements placed and all applications from prospective tenants; and pay $2,000 to the victim.

An additional $2,500 payment owed to the state was suspended so long as the landlord continues to comply with the terms of the settlement.

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  • Ron in Colorado

    Unbelievable!!!!
    And if the landlord did take action, and a physical confrontation took place, the ‘bottom feeders’ (lawyers) would of blamed the landlord again.

    What the heck is the police for? To keep the donut population under control?

    Of course it is Massachusetts. Deaf, dumb, blind and can’t smell. But damn good at covering it up by listening with their mouth!!

  • Joseph

    It never fails, the scape goat is always the landlord. I guess I better enroll in a criminal justice course at my local college to deal with my tenants. The landlord should have called the authories, so if nothing was done, it would be the fault of the city or state not the landlord.

  • NancyC

    What actions should the landlord have taken ensuring the right of all of the tenants?

  • Anthony

    Don’t void the landlord of his responsibilities. He is renting to the public and therefore it is understood that he has to comply with fair housing rules when notified about a problem. He was notified; he did nothing. All he had to do was call the police and he would have done his part.

  • jeff

    To the other comments. Can’t you read? The landlord did nothing. These people were being harassed. He should have called the cops . Would he do the same thing if those same tenents set the place on fire? Either way a crime was being committed. But you sit there and gripe about donut eating cops or the blind state of Mass or bottom feeders . Try to read and think

  • brassservices

    He could have taken the following actions: document the complaint in detail and in writing with the tenant. Use this to help the tenant file for restraining orders against the harassers. Keep video tape equipment and recording equipment available for public (NOT surreptitious) recording of the threats. Call the police to report an incident if the tenants are unable or unwilling to do so themselves. Contact his own attorney for further advice so as to negate his liability if acting under legal council. Threaten the harassers with eviction if they do not comply with a CEASE AND DESIST letter.

    How’s that for action, in answer of a seemingly rhetorical question?

  • Randyj

    Where is personal responsibility?? If you are threatened by someone, it should YOUR responsibility to follow through or NOT. The landlord should not be involved in any way what so ever. The Mass laws were born from the gay community and have to deal with their lifestyle, which is not a responsibility of landlords.
    America is being drowned and destroyed by liberal legislators who want to blame everyone but themselves. So Sick!

  • landlordheaven

    It looks like the people siding with the landlord in this article are either deadbeat landlords or not landlords at all. If they are, it’s safe to say they operate their property in a manner that puts them at risk. Not too smart.

  • Ron in Colorado

    Jeff, I should read and think? Why don’t you pick up a dictionary and look up the word landlord and babysitter and/or nanny and see if the definitions sound even close! I can understand a tenant mentioning the problem to the landlord as a FYI. But when it comes to dealing with the offending tenants, the tenant who is being harassed needs to call the police!!!

    brassservices, you solutions sounds very govt. Spend, spend, spend. (video cameras, lawyers for advice, etc). If I run my rentals like a govt agency, I’d have a fire by Saturday night. FYI: because of the bottom feeders an eviction is a time consuming, expensive process. Can take from 30 to 90 days and cost from $500 to $3000. It not something you do because of 2 tenants have an argument. Also you face a discrimination lawsuit if you evict someone without enough cause.

    So Jeff and brassservices, To quote Charlie Sheen verbatim who once said “Duh!’

  • Wally808Hi

    The party that is being harassed should be the one to call the police, and if the other party is a tenant of same landlord, they should be given a notice of violation of a basic house rule to live in peace and quiet etc not to create a disturbance if you will. Lots of things done should be good common sense as to handling situations and it would be prudent to do something and record the action with a paper trail like via email. I make notes of this things and if it is to phone or mail, post a notice etc take pictures with my notes and email it to myself for history of events. Sound like too much….but just don’t need without evidence in case I am sued.

    Some of our laws need to be revised or clarified or removed like the Blue laws of MA. No Business to be done on Sundays except with a fee for permit to do business.

    Live with ALOHA, WALLY

  • Daytrip

    To all: First, check the Lease terms. If it refers to what tenants may or may not do, or what Landlords should or should not do, that will prevail. My hunch and my own experience is that you go to your Landlord about a problem whether a toilet is leaking or a tenant is disturbing the peace or harrassing me because that tenant is breaching the “peace and quiet” promised in some way by the Lease. That is what a Landlord is for.

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