An Arlington property owner, along with its property manager and real estate management company, have been sued for violating the state’s anti-discrimination law, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced Monday.
Nostalgia Properties LLC, which is based at 50 Grove St. in Arlington and owns the apartment complex on Brattle Drive, along with Nicholas Rivers, the property’s manager, and The Hamilton Company Inc., its management company, allegedly refused to rent to a prospective tenant because he intended to use a Section 8 affordable housing voucher to pay rent.
Under state law, it’s illegal to discriminate against housing applicants because they receive public assistance, according to a press release from Coakley’s office.
Incident in question
According to the complaint filed in Middlesex Superior Court, Rivers, who works for The Hamilton Company, placed several advertisements for available one-bedroom rental units at the Brattle Drive complex in November 2011.
Then, on two separate occasions, Rivers allegedly withheld information about available rental units and failed to negotiate with a prospective tenant after the tenant told him that he had a Section 8 voucher.
The attorney general’s office filed the complaint after the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) found probable cause that the defendants had unlawfully discriminated against the prospective tenant, according to the release.
The attorney general’s office is responsible for enforcing fair housing laws and prosecuting housing discrimination cases following probable cause determinations from the MCAD.
The attorney general’s office is seeking injunctive relief, damages for the victim and punitive damages.
“We are facing critical affordable housing needs in the Commonwealth and the strain on those needing rental or transitional housing assistance is particularly great,” Coakley said in a statement. “Discrimination against those receiving housing assistance subsidies is illegal and realtors, brokers and landlords must operate within the bounds of the law.”
Housing discrimination includes refusing to rent or sell, failing or refusing to negotiate, withholding information about available housing accommodations, falsely representing that housing accommodations are unavailable, or imposing different terms or conditions for housing accommodations.
This matter is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Genevieve C. Nadeau of the office’s Civil Rights Division.
The Hamilton Company is a Boston-based firm with a portfolio of more than 60 residential properties in Massachusetts.