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Arlington Property Owner Sued for Housing Discrimination

Nostalgia Properties LLC is facing a complaint from the state attorney general's office.

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.

Coakley’s statement

“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.

Paul August 11, 2012 at 07:03 PM
Following he law does NOT mean dropping a landlord's requirements to maintain his property and the security of others who rent from him. The landlord WANTS: good tenants, clean tenants, decent tenants, and tenants who respect the rights of other tenants, neighbors and the landlord. Only a fool puts the phrase "not Sec. 8" because that is no different than one hundred years ago when it was "Irish need not apply". Of course, the Sec. 8 people can apply BUT that does not mean they have to be accepted. TURN DOWN of a Sec. 8 IS NOT automatically "discrimination"! Landlords: follow the law to the letter and if you HAVE REASON not to rent to ANY APPLICANT... DON'T! By the way, Section 8 money goes a long way in EVERETT!
Lisa August 12, 2012 at 02:38 PM
You people who are so against sec.8 really need to educate yourselves. First off, you are all very disciminatory. Someday you, or your loved ones may be forced into a situation where they or you will be on section 8 or similar, thanx to economy. I have sec 8. My $ is just as good as anyone else's. I understand sec 8 comes with a stigma, but I- and a few people I know are NOT unclean, dirty, scumbags trying to drain the system. Do you honestly THINK that some people on sect. 8 actually 'prefer' to be on the system?! Are you kidding me! With all the aggravation, paperwork, discrimination, extra rules/laws that go along with it? rukm! Some of us don't have a choice. I do NOT live rent free. I pay my share and it's more than you think. What you people don't understand is that sec 8 is a GUARANTEED RENT. If I miss a payment or screw with my rent, I'm off the program and in the streets! Yep, look forward to that day...NOT. Its' funny: ALL I hear from you discriminatory landlords is how your tenant just all of a sudden stopped paying their rent. Guess what people: If I did that? Good by voucher, housing, everything. I have a child to take care of and wouldn't jeopardize that for the world. Oh and btw, we are very clean, quiet, shovel, do landscaping, don't smoke, have excellent references...but yet, have recently been discriminated against ourselves. So go ahead and disciminate and claim what you will, but the law is the law
Frank Mulligan August 12, 2012 at 08:45 PM
Paul, Every city treats people differant that have section 8, The landlord's get their money. mif they don't keep the Aot updated, they don't get their $$$$$.
EM August 13, 2012 at 12:18 AM
I have no doubt there are sec. 8 tenants who are great tenants, but unfortunately the majority is not. If the building next to my home were occupied primarily with sec. 8 tenants, I would try to sell as quick as possible. There are unfortunately too many to spoil it for the decent tenants.
Paul August 13, 2012 at 11:00 PM
Lisa you probably are a nice person trying her best. But Sec 8 housing, Welfare payments and Food Stamps come from TAXPAYERS not government. These taxpayer funded programs are meant to be a temporary safety net NOT a lifestyle support system. Landlords must contend with many laws and some of the worst allow deadbeats to avoid eviction for months. As long as the landlord complies with the law , he is within his rights to accept or refuse any tenant. Landlords are in business to make money and to keep or improve their income properties. If you want to live on the dole permanently go to the projects on Clarenden Hill. We all have to live with decisions we made in life.

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