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Boston Landlords Face Lead Fines

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

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Two Boston-area housing providers accused of skirting both lead-paint disclosure laws and rental laws regarding families have agreed to sanctions and fines to resolve lead and discrimination complaints.

William L'Heureux, an agent of Capitol Realty Group of Boston and JP&B Realty LLC of Belmont, "engaged in a pattern of discrimination against families with children, due to the presence of lead paint in the units," according to an announcement by Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley.

Boston apt. Capitol Realty
Capitol Realty Group

Capitol Realty Group manages about 50 properties in the Boston area. The Massachusetts Attorney General accused the company of housing discrimination and violating lead-paint disclosure laws, leading to fines and other actions.

“Massachusetts law protects families from discrimination and ensures their right to live in residential units free of lead hazards,” Coakley said. “Real-estate professional and landlords must understand that it is illegal to refuse to rent to a family because they have children or to fail to comply with all requirements of the lead paint laws.”

Secret Investigation

The discrimination was uncovered in an investigation by the Suffolk University Law School Housing Discrimination Testing Program, Coakley said.

The tests were prompted by "several facially discriminatory advertisements on Craigslist," Coakley said.

According to one test, L'Heureux refused to show a rental unit to a "tester" who said that he had a child under six years old. On the same day, however, L'Heureux showed the same property to another "tester" with children.

Charles River
Capitol Realty Group

The two companies oversee dozens of properties and rental units in the Boston area.

Capitol Realty Group manages about 50 properties in the Boston area; JP&B owns 12 properties containing 21 rental units, authorities said.

The companies also failed to provide adequate notice of lead paint hazards to new tenants, officials said.

Fines and Settlement

Under the terms of the settlement, the companies will pay a total of $12,500 in fines.

EPA booklet

Federal and Massachusetts laws require lead-hazard disclosures by property managers and owners.

In addition, L’Heureux and several employees of Capitol and JP&B must:

  • Attend training on fair housing laws;
  • Issue updated anti-discrimination policies;
  • Provide lead inspection reports to all current tenants residing in JP&B-owned properties; and
  • Allow the Discrimination Testing Program to perform fair-housing tests in the future.

Under Massachusetts law, it is illegal to discriminate against housing applicants because of their familial status or to make a statement or publish an advertisement indicating a limitation or preference against families with children.

In addition, The Fair Housing Act of 1968 made it illegal for landlords to discriminate against prospective tenants with children under the age of 18.

Massachusetts 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.

Federal law also mandates that landlords disclose lead-paint hazards.




Tagged categories: Building owners; Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); Good Technical Practice; Lead; Lead Disclosure Rule; Residential Construction

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