The state's Attorney General's office settled with the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation and a large property management company for violating the state's anti-discrimination and consumer protection laws to make a reasonable accommodation for a young child with asthma, despite repeated requests from the child's parent and medical team.
According to the AG’s settlement with Peabody Properties, a property management company, and the apartment’s owner, JPNDC, the two companies allegedly failed to adequately address secondhand smoke that was seeping into the young child's apartment. The companies also failed to mitigate a serious rodent infestation in the building that was aggravating the child’s asthma.
Peabody Properties serves as property manager for JPNDC’s family rental housing.
The two companies initially provided air purifiers for the family’s unit at the time they moved in, but the air purifiers did not stop the presence of secondhand smoke in the unit and the child suffered serious medical consequences as a result. Requests from the child’s parent and medical team to transfer to a non-smoking unit as further reasonable accommodation were ignored, and the child’s health worsened as a result.
Peabody Properties and JPNDC agreed to pay the family $35,000 in restitution, and implement no smoking policies across all of JPNDC's affordable housing units, announced Attorney General Maura Healey on June 8. The two companies will also develop a plan to make sure the no smoking policy is enforced. Peabody Properties has also agreed to help the family in accessing waitlists for properties outside of the JPNDC's property portfolio that are smoke-free.
The family's apartment was not in Jamaica Plain.
The settlement does not include any determination of wrongdoing by JPNDC or Peabody Properties.
“Housing providers cannot deny tenants their right to a safe and sanitary home,” said Healey. “My office is committed to enforcing nondiscrimination and other laws that protect vulnerable tenants from living in conditions that make them sick, and we will continue to educate landlords and tenants about their rights and obligations under the law when it comes to apartment conditions and accommodations.”
This case was referred to the AG’s office from the Boston Fair Housing Commission, which found probable cause that the two companies failed to provide a reasonable accommodation.
"JPNDC strives to provide healthy housing for residents in its properties. All new housing is smoke-free and includes numerous features to reduce asthma triggers. In the case of older buildings that were already occupied when JPNDC acquired them, as was the case with the tenant in question, we are working to transition them to being smoke-free. We appreciate the assistance of the Attorney General's office as we collaborated with Peabody Properties to develop a better response to this tenant's need for accommodation, and to advance our transition to 100% smoke-free housing," said a JPNDC spokesperson.