Two landlords in Wareham recently settled claims of housing discrimination with the Attorney General's Office after they published advertisements for apartments that discouraged families with young children from applying, according to Wareham Week, an online news publication. The landlords allegedly instructed families with young children not to apply for the units because of the presence of lead paint. The landlords were reportedly required to delead their apartments, pay a $3,000 penalty to the state, and attend "fair housing" training.
Massachusetts has extraordinarily strict houding discrimination laws. The law goes beyond refusal to rent or sell. A property owner may not discourage a person from applying to rent or buy property based on such person's race, religion, gender, and certain other statuses, including family status. This means that a property owner cannot advertise an available property in a way that discourages people with children from applying or inquiring about the unit. Since many units in the state have lead paint, and a property owner is not permitted to knowingly rent or sell a property with lead paint to tenants with children under six, this means that property owners often try to discourage families with children under six from applying for units with lead paint.