Lead Paint and Housing Discrimination in Boston

Many lead paint laws throughout the country potentially open up renters to housing discrimination based on the age of their children.  Both Philadelphia and Boston are among some cities and municipalities that require landlords and property owners to follow certain procedures when children under a certain age (in this case under 6) are living in a unit built before 1978.  Some of these procedures include proper notification to residents, paint inspections and lead dust wipe testing.   These procedures often cause the owners or managers an extra expense.  Rather than pay for these services, some owners and managers have chosen to only rent to families with older children or no children, a clear form of discrimination.

Recently, Suffolk University Law School Housing Discrimination Testing Program set out to gather proof that this is an ongoing problem in Boston.  After seeing ads on craigslist posted by Capitol Realty Group of Boston and JP&B Realty of Belmont they replied with some “tester” responses.  When the tester stated they had children under the age of 6 they were not allowed to see the property. When a different tester said they had older children the property was shown to them.

A case was brought against these housing providers, resulting in fines of $12,500.   Additionally, employees are required to attend training on fair-housing laws and a new company policy on discrimination must be issued. The Fair Housing Act was enacted over 45 years ago.  This act prohibits discrimination concerning the sale, rental and financing of housing based on race, religion, national origin and sex.

While lead paint inside a property may prove to be a complicated issue, the biggest take away from this case is to know what laws are applicable and how to comply with them.  If you’re not sure what you should or shouldn’t be doing as an owner or manager of housing units, contact us today and we can walk you through the requirements and potential solutions.

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