The commonwealth of Massachusetts has applicable state and federal fair housing laws. Fair housing law prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, familial status, gender identity, and other traits protected under civil rights law. Often plaintiffs will see this when they are discriminated against in the workplace, but there are also protections for housing.
Common fair housing violations
People sometimes don’t even realize that they have been unlawfully discriminated against. Common examples of violations include:
- Refusing to grant a mortgage or charging higher fees in violation of civil rights protections.
- Refusing to rent to an applicant or charging a higher fee in violation of protected civil rights.
- Refusing to rent because the tenant relies on public assistance.
- Refusing to make accommodations for tenants with disabilities – such as grab bars, ramps or a no pets policy for a service animal.
- Retaliation for reporting one of the violations.
File a complaint
Those whose civil rights are violated can file a complaint with the state’s Attorney General’s Civil Rights Division or the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination. When filing a fair housing complaint, it is essential to:
- State the nature of the violation
- Name the property owner, mortgage company, or management company that committed the violation
- Write a clear and detailed summary with dates and names if possible
- State the desired outcome of the complaint
- Include the plaintiff’s contact information
Real estate law quickly gets complicated
Those with questions about real estate law or the fair housing law often find the information confusing, particularly in Massachusetts. Those with questions can often get answers from attorneys who handle these areas of law.