Landlord to Pay $100,000 After Early Termination Dispute

A Boston landlord will pay $100,000 in fines and fees for “landlord negligence” after allegedly failing to comply with his state’s housing laws.

In addition, the landlord is required to ‘de-lead’ vacant units and notify the AG’s office if he purchases new rental properties. He will remain on probation for five years.

Massachusetts Attorney General Marsha Coakley said that the case would have an important impact on landlords. This settlement demonstrates that there are serious consequences for landlords who would sacrifice public safety to save a few dollars, she said.

But the landlord’s attorney told news reporters that Coakley won the case because of technicalities. He also said it was the first time the landlord, who manages 24 units, had allegedly violated the state’s lead paint law.

According to the landlord’s attorney, the complaint stemmed from the landlord’s attempt to remove a tenant who had remained in a property after signing an early lease termination. The woman gave birth shortly before the termination was to occur, according to the news report. Under Massachusetts law, landlords cannot rent residences with lead-based paint to families with children younger than six. Furthermore, a landlord cannot deny housing to families with children on the grounds that the home may have lead hazards.

The AG’s complaint alleged that the landlord evicted or threatened to evict tenants with young children, rented apartments containing lead paint to tenants with young children, failed to remove lead hazards in those apartments, failed to provide proper notice of lead hazards to his tenants, made misrepresentations regarding the presence of lead paint in his apartments, and refused to repair unsafe and unsanitary conditions. He was also accused of illegally charging for water.

Under federal and most state fair housing laws, it is illegal to discriminate against an individual or family seeking housing because of a person’s race, color, religion, sex, familial status (e.g. children or marital status), national origin, or handicap/disability. These laws also prohibit discrimination in advertising, public housing, and actions taken by landlords, realtors, mortgage lenders and brokers.

Massachusetts laws also require disclosure of lead paint history, abatement of lead paint hazards in units in which children under the age of six are present, and prohibit landlords from retaliating against tenants who assert their rights under the lead paint laws.

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