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Owners’ Lead Dodge Backfires

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

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A Boston landlord who tried to evict pregnant tenants rather than provide the appropriate lead-paint abatement for their units, will pay $23,000 to resolve allegations of housing discrimination and lead violations.

According to a Suffolk Superior Court agreement known as an "assurance of discontinuance," Dimitrios, Hariclia and Hariton Deligiannides allegedly refused to renew the leases of two tenants to avoid the landlords' obligations under lead paint laws. 

Lead Paint

“Landlords cannot avoid their obligations to abate lead paint hazards by evicting tenants with children,” said Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley. The property pictured is not the one at issue.

“There are important protections in place to ensure that families have access to safe living environments,” Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley announced May 6.

“Landlords cannot avoid their obligations to abate lead paint hazards by evicting tenants with children.”

Move-Out Suggested

According to the settlement, Dimitrios Deligiannides 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, authorities said.

The settlement also alleges that the three owners failed to abate lead hazards promptly once two tenants gave birth and continued to live in the units with their infants. The owners are also accused of failing to disclose known lead hazards to all tenants in the three-unit building.

Legal Obligations

Under Massachusetts law, it is illegal to discriminate against tenants because of their familial status, including refusing to renew a tenant’s lease due to an obligation to abate lead paint hazards as a result of a change in the tenant’s familial status.


State and federal laws mandate a variety of lead-safe practices and disclosures.

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 beginning of their tenancies.

Property managers and owners have similar federal obligations under the U.S. Renovation, Repair and Painting Program and federal lead-disclosure laws.

Lead is particularly dangerous to children because their bodies absorb more lead than adults and their brains and nervous systems are more sensitive to lead's damaging effects, authorities say.

Settlement Terms

The settlement requires the owners to provide lead inspection reports to all current and future tenants, obtain full deleading compliance for an apartment in the building, and forgive 10 months of rent, totaling $12,000, for one of the tenants.

The owners have also 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 will be suspended, pending compliance with the settlement.


Tagged categories: Building owners; Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); Health and safety; Lead; Lead Disclosure Rule; Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (LRRP); Maintenance + Renovation; Residential Construction

Comment from Catherine Brooks, (5/14/2014, 10:53 AM)

It doesn’t sound like the landlords will pay for the critical lead testing of all the past and current tenants and for the medical, psychological, educational, and social costs resulting, if any test positive to lead? Rent waiving and clean up are mere drops in the bucket compared to the potential other costs.

Comment from jerry baxter, (5/15/2014, 11:06 AM)

The landlords were instructed to cover or cleanup the lead. And fined for breaking the law , not directly related to the lead law. The court realizes, in good judgement, a witch hunt will not solve the problem. What the court did WILL solve the problem, now and future. If those tenants who lived in the apartment, prior to this jugement can bring proof of any harm, then THEY can file for relief in the courts.

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