Massachusetts landlords pay $18,000 for refusing Section 8 and confining families to ground floor

The Housing Discrimination Project (HDP) in Holyoke, Massachusetts settled a complaintfiled with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) for $18,000 in lateSeptember. The settlement agreement also calls for the owners of the complex to traintheir managers in fair housing rules and regulations.

HDP asserted in its complaintthat the owners and managers of Franklin Court Apartments in North Adams had violatedMassachusetts fair housing laws. Allegedly, the owners and managers refused to rent tolow-income residents with Section 8 rental subsidies and refused to allow families withminor children to live in units not on the ground floor. Massachusetts civil rightsstatutes bar housing discrimination based on "source of income," includingrental subsidies. State and federal laws prohibit discrimination against families withchildren.

During the litigation of the case, Jacques and Susann Wajsfelner, the owners, admittedthat they had not participated in the Section 8 program prior to the filing of thecomplaints and they had no Section 8 tenants.

"We believe the settlement sends a strong message that refusing to rent to tenantswith rental subsidies and families with children is illegal and will not betolerated," said Joel Feldman, Legal Director of HDP.