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AG: Belmont Agent, Watertown Property Owner Violated Fair Housing Laws

The agent and property groups allegedly discriminated against families with small children.

AG: Belmont Agent, Watertown Property Owner Violated Fair Housing Laws
A Belmont real estate agent must pay a fine and attend training after violating fair housing laws for housing owned by client which has units in Watertown. 

William L’Heureux, an agent of Capitol Realty Group of Boston and JP&B Realty located in Belmont, posted several "facially discriminatory advertisements" on Craigslist, according to a release from Attorney General Coakley's office. Capitol Realty Group manages approximately 50 properties in the Boston area, while JP&B Realty owns 12 properties, containing 21 rental units in Watertown.

Boston-area housing providers have agreed to pay $12,500, attend fair housing training, and implement new policies to avoid future fair housing violations to resolve allegations of discrimination against families with children as well as violations of the lead paint laws, Coakley announced Monday. 

“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.”

The Suffolk University Law School Housing Discrimination Testing Program conducted a series of fair housing tests responding to these advertisements that indicated L’Heureux was engaged in a pattern of discrimination against families with children, due to the presence of lead paint in the units, according to Coakley's office. 

According to one test, L’Heureux refused to show a rental unit to a fair housing “tester” who stated that he had a child under six years of age while on the same day agreeing to show the same property to another tester that had children. 

The defendants also allegedly failed to provide adequate notice of lead paint hazards to tenants who rented the units. 

Under the terms of the settlement, L’Heureux and certain employees of Capitol and JP&B must attend training on fair housing laws. In addition, they are required to issue updated anti-discrimination policies, provide lead inspection reports to all current tenants residing in JP&B-owned properties, and allow the Suffolk University Law School Housing Discrimination Testing Program to perform fair housing tests in the future, Coakley announced.

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