Monday, November 25, 2013

Diliddo v. Oxford Street Realty, Inc. case brief

Diliddo v. Oxford Street Realty, Inc. case brief summary
876 N.E.2d 421 (Mass. 2007)

Plaintiff Commonwealth sued defendants, a landlord's agent and its principal, in the Middlesex Superior Court Department (Massachusetts), after the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination found defendants discriminated against plaintiff/intervenor housing subsidy recipient. The trial court entered summary judgment against the recipient, who appealed. The Supreme Judicial Court transferred the case from the Appeals Court.

The agent would not rent to the recipient due to a termination clause in the form lease from the agency subsidizing the recipient's rent.


  • The supreme judicial court held this violated Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 151B, § 4(10), barring discrimination against housing subsidy recipients "because of any requirement" of the "housing subsidy program." 
  • The Department of Housing and Community Development (department) could require the form lease because developing such a lease was within its mandate. 
  • The statute's "requirements" provision was not limited to providing "decent" housing, because the statute was amended to bar discrimination both because a prospective tenant had a housing subsidy voucher and because a landlord refused to abide by "requirements" of the housing subsidy program. 
  • The agent's refusal of the lease due to its termination "requirements" fell within this prohibition. 
  • Whether the agent had a discriminatory "animus" was irrelevant, as it was not required for a statutory violation, nor was there an exception for "substantial economic harm" to landlords. 
  • The agent was liable because it and the landlord were required not to discriminate based on a housing subsidy "requirement."
The trial court's judgment denying the recipient's partial summary judgment motion was reversed, its order granting summary judgment to the agent and its principal was vacated, and the case was remanded to the trial court to enter judgment for the recipient as to liability, and for further proceedings.

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