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Boston-area property landlord settles lead paint suit

A Boston-area property owner accused of retaliatory practices against tenants with young children has settled the case and will pay $75,000 and remove lead from three rental units in Arlington.

Attorney General Martha Coakley’s office announced the settlement with Keith L. Miller of Newton on Wednesday after the agreement was entered in Suffolk Superior Court.

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Miller, a Boston lawyer who has owned and managed rental units in Chelsea, Newton, Arlington, and Brighton, will pay the largest fair housing settlement during Coakley’s tenure as attorney general, her office said Wednesday.

As part of the settlement, the outstanding discrimination and retaliation claims against Miller have been dismissed.

Miller’s lawyer, Mark Stopa, said the landlord informed his tenants about lead paint in his properties, but failed to provide all of the required information about the lead.

“It was an innocent oversight on some paperwork,” ­Stopa said. He has called the other allegations against Miller untrue.

Coakley’s office filed suit against Miller in February 2011 alleging that he moved to evict tenants on Bacon Street in Newton when they had newborn children because he was obligated to remove lead from their apartments.

State law requires landlords to abate lead paint hazards in apartments if children younger than 6 years old live there.

According to the attorney general’s office, Miller rented apartments containing lead paint to tenants with young children, refused to repair unsafe and unsanitary conditions, and retaliated when tenants reported suspected violations to city and state officials.

The suit cites one instance in which Miller allegedly made threatening comments about a Hispanic tenant’s immigration status after the renter requested a health code inspection of one of Miller’s apartment’s on Park Street in Chelsea.

An injunction was issued against Miller in Suffolk Superior Court last year, ordering him to stop retaliating against tenants for complaining about unsafe conditions and to refrain from discriminating against tenants with young children.

Late last year and in January, the court also issued summary judgments that Miller failed to abate lead hazards and failed to provide proper notice of lead hazards in violation of the Consumer Protection Act, according to the settlement and the attorney general’s office.

Brock Parker can be reached at brock.globe@gmail.com.
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