walkitout (walkitout) wrote,
walkitout
walkitout

excuse me?

http://www.boston.com/realestate/news/blogs/renow/2008/07/landlordtenant_1.html

FWIW, I don't much like Ms. Fischman, judging by several weeks of her columns. But this one actually stunned me. I'll do to it what I usually do to an analysis that looks a little fishy, but might be hard to explain why it's Evil.

In Massachusetts, if you rent to someone who has children under 6 years of age, you are required by law to make sure the rental space is lead-free/deleaded. (You don't have to remove it all; for places where there won't be friction, paint that contains it is adequate, for example, but don't use _me_ as an expert.) This is a moderately controversial requirement, in that it does cost something to delead (typically on the order of $10K or less, but sometimes running up considerably higher). (If you _own_ a place with lead and you have an under 6 year old, you also have to remediate. Sellers don't seem to have to do tests to find out and remediate so the protection is not as strong as the septic system laws in MA.)

It is _illegal_ to discriminate in housing against a family with children.

Rona wants to know if a couple who was expecting was morally obligated to tell their landlord -- prior to renting from them -- that they were expecting a baby.

Let's consider a parallel situation. Let's say your mother is black and your father is white, and because of the vagaries of genetics, you have curly blonde hair and green eyes. Let's say (cause it is) that it's illegal to discriminate in housing against black people, but your landlord would consider you black if they saw your mother. Are you morally obligated to tell your prospective landlord that you are black, at least by their definition?

If you're moving in with your partner, do you have to tell your homophobic landlord you're lesbians and not just good friends looking to save on the rent?

If you don't have to tell the landlord, and the information is _illegal_ for the landlord to decide not to rent to you based on, I don't get where the moral issue arises? Sure, it might be nice to give the landlord the maximum reasonable amount of time in which to _do_ the remediation. But wtf?

I should NOT be surprised. This is _absolutely_ everything I dislike about Boston. Newcomers to Seattle (rightly) complain about the whole pencil-you-in-for-lunch phenomenon, and how you'll never see the inside of a native's house (altho the immigrants belief that the natives have some cleverly concealed secret social life among themselves is absolutely unfounded; native Seattleites don't get out much. Okay, at all.). When I got to Boston, I about died when I realized the ubiquity of moral justifications for bigotry of all sorts. Nice people. And they definitely vote Democrat. But a bit backwards in some ways.

ETA: after further thought, it occurs to me that the author might have been just attempting to provoke discussion since in previous comments, some had defended landlords who were unwilling to remediate lead and felt it unfair to force them to (older folk renting a single unit were singled out for ain't-it-wrong-to-make-'em status). While I don't have any particular problem with that _intent_, I maintain that the way it was executed was repulsive.
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