According to a statement from Massachusetts Attorney General Marsha Coakley, the fine is part of a settlement deal that came after the landlord allegedly refused to renew the leases of two tenants after learning that they were pregnant, in order to avoid the legal obligations under lead paint laws.
There are important protections in place to ensure that families have access to safe living environments, AG Coakley said. Landlords cannot avoid their obligations to abate lead paint hazards by evicting tenants with children.
According to the charges, the landlord told one of his tenants that he believed there was lead paint in the unit only after she informed him that she was pregnant. He then allegedly urged her to move out of the apartment. He also was accused of failing to abate lead hazards promptly once both tenants gave birth and continued to reside in the units with their infants, and failing to disclose known lead hazards to all tenants in the three-unit apartment building.
Under the terms of the settlement, the landlord is required to provide lead inspection reports to all current and future tenants, obtain full deleading compliance for one apartment, and forgive ten months of rent, totaling $12,000, for one of the tenants.
Additionally, the landlord has agreed to pay a total of $11,000 in additional relief to the two affected tenants. An additional payment of $2,500 to the Commonwealth is suspended pending compliance with the settlement.
Under Massachusetts law, as in many states, it is illegal to discriminate against tenants because of their familial status, including refusing to renew a tenants lease due to an obligation to abate lead paint hazards as a result of a change in the tenants familial status. Landlords must also fully comply with the lead paint laws, including the removal or covering of lead paint hazards where any child under the age of six resides, and providing tenants with all required lead paint disclosures at the inception of their tenancies.
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