Landlord to Pay $25,000 to Settle Retaliation Claim

The owner of an apartment building in Cambridge, Massachusetts has agreed to pay $25,000 to settle allegations that a former trustee and property manager discriminated against a family with a young child to avoid an obligation to remove lead paint hazards and then later retaliated against the family for filing a discrimination complaint.

According to a statement from Attorney General Martha Coakley, the settlement requires the owner of a 60-unit apartment building to relocate the victim family and delead the apartment where they currently reside.

The Trust recently paid more than $29,000 owed on a judgment obtained by the AG’s Office and the City of Cambridge when they brought suit to enforce an order by the Cambridge Human Rights Commission (CHRC) regarding the initial discrimination allegations.

The new complaint, filed in Suffolk Superior Court in September 2011, alleges that the landlord disproportionately increased the family’s monthly rent, refused to accept rental payments, refused to renew their lease and failed to abate lead hazards in the family’s apartment. The building’s former superintendent also allegedly harassed the family after they filed a complaint with the CHRC.

Under the terms of the settlement, the landlord will pay $25,000, including $10,000 to the City of Cambridge, $5,000 to the family, and $10,000 to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The settlement also requires all employees to attend fair housing training.

Under the state’s anti-discrimination law, it is illegal to discriminate against tenants because they have children or because the rental would require the landlord to abate lead hazards. It is also illegal for a landlord to retaliate against tenants because they have asserted their rights under the lead paint and anti-discrimination laws.

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