Newton Landlord Fined $15,000 For Allegedly Refusing To Rent To Black Tenants

By Jim Armstrong, WBZ-TV

NEWTON (CBS) – Newton landlord Alfred Defazio is adamant: he is no racist.

Though, he admits he has reservations about renting any of his apartments to African Americans.

Last week, the Massachusetts Commission on Discrimination ended a complicated, three-year battle between Defazio and Newton real estate broker Keisha Willis.

The Commission ended up fining Defazio $15,000 for allegedly telling Willis, who is African American, he wouldn’t rent to her or to other black tenants.

Investigators claim DeFazio said, “They party too much, make too much noise, and cost me too much money to kick out.”

WBZ-TV’s Jim Armstrong reports

“No, no. That’s not so; that’s a lie,” said Defazio.

He claims his statements have been misunderstood, taken out of context, or fabricated altogether.

“No, I did not say that,” offered Defazio when confronted with a written record of what he is alleged to have told Willis.

“I did not say that. I said I’ve had problems with [African American tenants]. I said, on the blacks, I had problems with them and I prefer not to have them. Those were my exact words.”

Catherine Ziehl, general counsel for the Massachusetts Commission on Discrimination, says even she was surprised by Defazio’s statements, which were also given under oath.

“We don’t usually see this kind of direct discrimination. Not only is it direct, he repeated it over and over again,” said Ziehl.

“His statements are particularly egregious, and a direct form of discrimination. And he repeated them not only to the broker but to our investigator.”

Defazio, who has rented out apartments in locations all over the state, says he has never been accused of such actions in the past.

“I don’t discriminate who I rent to; I’m renting to foreigners,” he explains.

“A lot of people won’t rent to foreigners but I rent to them.”

In addition to the fine, Defazio has been ordered not to make discriminatory statements when advertising his rental properties or to restrict rentals based on race.

He is appealing the ruling.

Willis says her lawyer has advised her not to give any interviews about the story at this time.

More from Jim Armstrong
  • roudydowdy

    If he or anyone chooses to offer property for rent then it is illegal to discriminate. By the way Artie-J, “these people” are Americans and they live just like all Americans.

  • rick

    Avoid the problem, just require a credit check. Most people will fail.

    • anonymosity

      Good luck renting your 900 dollar 3 bedroom walkup to someone with an excellent credit score…. If I have great credit (black, white or mexican) I’m not renting from some slumlord anyways.

  • Blakxena

    @Artie J…How these people live? I’ve lived in Newton for a few years, I am a divorced mom of 2 sons AND I’m African-American. I work really hard for what I have and I treat the place I rent like its my own property. Do me a favor, don’t lump all African-Americans or Africans into one stereotype because we all don’t behave the same. It’s no surprise that he said it, during my apartment search, I’ve had landlords in Newton said the most racist comments to me. But I’m not lumping all white people as racist bigots am I?

    • DMD


  • turk182

    Defazio is uneducated as well as racist- and doesn’t have the intelligence to understand he is racist. What a moron. A rascist with even a little intelligence would have understood to not make such statements directly to the board!! They should offer him a choice of the fine or a choice of taking a special class(lots of them) on understanding humans and race discrimination. Then if he writes a letter of apology and explains his NEW FOUND appreciation of all people-and only then-he gets the fine $ back.

    • BJoyB

      Firstly shut your mouth. I know Alfred Defazio very well and he is a sweet guy. The only reason he was wary of rent ing to african americans is that years ago he had a couple of different african american tennants that left his properties in shambles after they left and they refused to pay to fix it up. Also he is an old man who was brought up in a different time and is set in his ways I’m not saying he has a pass to be racist I’m just saying he isnt politically correct and he holds grudges that is all this man is guillty of. Also that Broker lied if you asked her to show you what proof she has she wouldnt be able to because there isnt any proof. So shut your mouth and keep it closed.

      • Donna Lusciousdc Sayles-Corbin

        This is the problem with you people (racist). You have an experience with a couple of minorities and then all of a sudden we’re ALL like that. How would you like it if I said that ALL white men are child molesters and ALL white women sleep with children? Don’t like do you? You and Mr Slumlord-racist Defazio need to learn to treat people as individuals!

      • Blakxena

        Ok so he had a tenant mess up his unit…so we all have to suffer because it was an African American? And maybe HE”S LYING that it was an African American that messed up his house. I’m so tired of of the expectation of a “pass” because he’s from the old school and was brought up differently. So now he doesn’t know the laws? Is he going to tell me to sit in the back of the bus or tell me I can’t drink from a certain water fountain because he forgot the laws? He knew EXACTLY what he was doing and saying he’s just didn’t get away with this time. And if you KNOW him so well, and you yourself admit he’s stuck in his ways (which means this isnt the FIRST time he’s said something stupid) why didn’t you tell him? And now the Broker lied? She obviously had proof enough since he was slapped with a fine. Be educated when you talk, please.

      • GrandDaughter

        you know what all of you leave my grandpa alone and go find something better todo with your life you a-holes

  • Mark

    It’s funny how this guy is labeled a racist but the black community rallies around Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson when there are ‘racial’ incidents.Those two are the biggest race pimps ever! Al Sharpton should have been convicted after the phony Tawana Brawley scheme that ruined a white District Attorney’s career in N.Y.C. Jesse ‘Hymie-town’ Jackson? Nuff said.

    • Blakxena

      So tell me Mark, what do you call it? He himself said on tv he would “prefer not to rent to “The Blacks”. If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck…….Are you seriously bring up the Tawana Brawley? Let me remind you of Charles Stewart when he killed his wife in Boston told everyone it was a Black Man. When he dived off Tobin Bridge, there wasn’t one public apology for the Black men that were stopped & harrassed. What about that women who drowned her kids and told everyone it was a Black man.

      And for the record…not every Black person is rallying around Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson….’Nuff obviously watch entirely too much tv.

  • That's Right

    The Landlord is not a Racist, he’s a Republican. Racist don’t have good credit, a requirement for all Republicans.

  • Jose B.

    We live in the USA but for some reason are not only told who we can rent “OUR PROPERTY” to but also to make sure to Press 1 for English. Freedom, eh?

  • dms

    It’s his property. He should be able to rent it out to a person of his choice. No questions asked and no justification necessary.

  • Mark

    Yeah,I’m seriously bringing up Tawana Brawley.Al Sharpton gets a free pass because he’s the “Reverend Al Sharpton”? He’s a low-life who uses the race card at every turn.I myself have worked since I was ten years old and was brought up to respect others,take personal responsibility (which lots of people in this country don’t),and work hard.I also lost 7 years off my career because of Affirmitive Action so take your ‘tude and leave it at the doorstep.Yeah, I AM bringing up TAWANA BRAWLEY! It was a miscarriage of justice that cost a man HIS career.Were the men who were brought under suspicion in the Stewart case aggrieved in any way? I’m guessing they weren’t.If he doesn’t want to rent to certain people that’s his perogative as long as he doesn’t advertise the property for rent and then denies certain people.

    • Blakxena

      And how many minorities (I’m not just talking about Blacks) were denied jobs because lack of Affirmative Action? You think you are the only one that suffers? I have a Master’s degree put myself through college, raised two fantastic sons by myself, worked in the same field since I was 15 years old and have been told I wasn’t “qualified” by someone who barely had their associates degree. No one has a “tude” (once again here you go with your BS). I definitely can agree with you that what Tawana Brawley did was atrocious as a Black person I can say that it was COMPLETELY WRONG. To answer your question about about the Stewart case…yes, my two brothers (one who is a former Marine and a correctional officer, the other is a pharmacist), were heading home from my brothers job (He worked at the Brigham at the time) and they were accosted, thrown on the ground, called N*ggers, handcuffed without an explanation why. All because they decided cut through the projects to their car that was parked on Annunciation road. Now before you start running your mouth and trying to tell me I have a “tude”, why don’t you get YOUR ATTITUDE straight along with your facts. You keep going on and on about Al Sharpton, and you obviously didn’t read my last sentence about him and Jesse Jackson. But I understand your angry and playing the blame game. I will also agree that yes, that if Mr. Defazio didn’t want Blacks in his apartments that IS his AMERICAN RIGHT, but he DID ADVERTISE THE PROPERTY AND HE DID DENY PEOPLE…AND HE SAID IT ALL ON TV.

  • proud slumblord

    How does this grab you. I’ve been a landlord for 25 years. The law is quite specific; you must rent to the first person in order of application (with earnest money) who meets your minimum qualifications -not the “best” tenant who applies-. This is proper. The problem is with the set ups where you may not give exactly the same “pitch” to everyone who you interview or speak to on the phone.This guy is an over the top “poster child”. Most landlords who get wacked by these regulatory pukes are caught in a gotcha!

  • Charlesb

    Why can we like or dislike whatever we please, without interference from the State? This is a ” thought police” scenario.

  • Donotcallim movingoutofdodge

    The law does say he has the right to rent or reject anyone if he lives in the same dwelling. The law also give’s the landlord rights to chose over Race or religion. I found the law but am having trouble finding it again. Do I agree with it. I think its out dated. But the law is there. Mr Defazio wanted to rent 35R butts Street. That was an attachment. His statement was for that dwelling and he was under the law. He did wait that day for that broker to come over but she played the race card right away. The broker also says it was 36 – That was never up for rent. The people lived there for 20 years. Anyone from that time and era is going to have mixed feelings about race. He’s to old to change. The condition of his estate and renting shows he lives on a fixed income. Slum lord OK he has more issues. But hes old an old man from another time. As for a guy that would give you his shirt,he may never rent to anyone but he would do anything for anyone no mater what race it is. Like I said he’s from another time. He had bad experiences renting to blacks. I seen what was done and have photos of the damage but they are packed away and will be for one month.Now my time is different. My kid dates a black person – I have done work to help a lawyer that marched with Mr. king and done free law for kids in Rox.. I never charged him a dime. My aunt was in charge of METCO in another town. I do think he’s being played because he isn’t like the newer generations and lacks education. But to take his money. Hell If I could remember all the times someone got a job over me or free school I think I should be the one with a chip on my shoulder. After seeing my grandfather beat up by blacks. I should . But I put the past behind me. You can call me a racist because I say what I want. You don’t want to meet me after you do. I know Al, I rented off him 20 years. He’s not what you want for a landlord but as I said, he would do anything for you no matter what color. He’s just misunderstood. Keep an open mind for that generation. They are almost gone. He’s not well and living on borrowed time. Leave the guy alone. I don’t agree with anything except I hate it when anyone jumps to the race card no matter what race. Remember that broker is going for mental damage. Sounds like both are a little de da dee.

    • Grand Daughter

      thank you for saying that im one of al’s granddaughters and im glad you are sticking up for him and you are completely right. thank you

    • Lisa

      The law that you are referencing doesn’t fit in this situation as far as explained in this article. I’m an agent and I did rentals in Newton, and I know that it happens. The first time it happened to me I was stunned. I’m not saying that the broker should be going for “mental damages”, but it does really hurt. If you haven’t experienced it, then you can’t say what you would do. I do feel bad for him though, and not knowing the whole story you can’t really pass judgement. However, he did repeat his comments to an investigator. His fine is not as much as it could have been, so at least there is something to be thankful for. Unfortunately, you can’t claim ignorance and hope that that gets you by. My father is 71 and was raised in a hot bed of discrimination and turmoil. He does, however, treat my white husband as if he was his son. I wish your friend the best and I hope that this doesn’t sour him even further.



  • dm

    Think about what you are doing., would you like this to be done to you or a family member.

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    If someone will not learn how to start defeating unhealthy credit score difficulty,… Various property owners utilize various credit rating … Pullup your individual credit file upfront and also … Bad Landlords Uk

  • Belinda Myers

    I know a Mobil Home park in Jeffersonville, In. that won’t rent to Black people, she tells them that the place has already been rented, but she rents to drug addiacts, and everything else, I lived there for 4 years, I know. Conveinient Mobil Home Park, 1534 Plank Rd. Jeffersonalville, In. 47130, Rita is the one renting a 87 year old lady inwhich she still thing Blacks should be slaves.

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