The U.S. Department of Justice today filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington alleging that the owners and manager of three Edmonds, Washington apartment buildings refused to rent their apartments to families with children, in violation of the Fair Housing Act.
“Equal access to housing is essential for all Americans, including families with young children,” said U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes of the Western District of Washington. “Particularly in our tight housing market, landlords must follow the law and make units available without discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability or familial status.”
“The Fair Housing Act prohibits landlords from denying apartments to families just because they have children,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Tom Wheeler of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “Many families already face challenges finding affordable housing, and they should not also have to deal with unlawful discrimination.”
“Families should have the same opportunity as anyone else to obtain housing, and not have their options limited simply because they have children,” said Fair Housing Director Barbara Lehman of the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Region X Office. “HUD will continue working to ensure that home seekers are aware of their housing rights and housing providers meet their responsibility to comply with this nation’s fair housing laws.”
Today’s complaint concerns three apartment buildings – located at 201 5th Ave. N., 621 5th Ave. S., and 401 Pine Street in Edmonds – that are managed by defendant Debbie A. Appleby, of Stanwood, Washington. The properties are owned by three Limited Liability Corporations (LLCs) controlled by Appleby – Apple One, LLC, Apple Two, LLC, and Apple Three, LLC—which are also named as defendants in the suit. The complaint alleges that in March 2014, defendant Appleby told a woman seeking an apartment for herself, her husband, and their one-year-old child that the apartment buildings were “adult only” and therefore not available to her family. The complaint also alleges that at various other times from April 2014 to November 2015, defendants advertised their available apartments as being restricted to adults only. The family filed a complaint with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”) which conducted an investigation, issued a charge of discrimination against the defendants, and referred the case to the Department of Justice.
The complaint seeks a court order requiring defendants to cease their discriminatory housing practices, damages for the family that filed the HUD complaint and any other families against whom the defendants discriminated against because they had children, and civil penalties. Any individuals who have information relevant to this case are encouraged to contact the Civil Rights Division at 1-800-896-7743, Option 96.
The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin and disability.