Two Holyoke, Mass. complexes pay $30,000 for refusing to sign leases for Section 8 tenants

The Housing Discrimination Project (HDP) in Holyoke, Massachusetts settled two fair housing cases in November 1996 where complexes allegedly refused to accept tenants with Section 8 rental subsidies. HDP and a local tenant received a $20,000 monetary settlement from University Park Apartments and a $10,000 monetary settlement from Hilltop Gardens Apartments in separate settlements. Both of the complexes are located in Holyoke.

Under Massachusetts law, it is illegal for landlords to turn away or otherwise discriminate against tenants who are Section 8 recipients. However, both University Park and Hilltop Gardens got around the law by not signing leases with their tenants. Signing a lease is a requirement of the Section 8 program. Therefore, tenants with Section 8 vouchers could not move into either complex. Under the HDP settlement, both complexes will now agree to sign leases for Section 8 tenants. They must also remove the words "no lease" from their advertisements.

According to HDP Legal Director Joel Feldman, this practice of not signing leases put one of HDP's clients in a bad and totally unnecessary situation. "Both complexes had an advertised policy of refusing to sign leases for tenants," he said. "In the case of University Park, they refused to sign a lease for one of our clients, resulting in a prolonged and unnecessary stay in a local homeless shelter. We are pleased that both complexes agreed to change this policy and issue leases for tenants in the Section 8 program."