Feds settle housing-bias suit with Edmonds apartment owner

The Department of Justice had sued the apartment owner and manager, alleging violations of the federal Fair Housing Act at three Edmonds rental properties.

The U.S. Department of Justice has reached a $95,000 settlement with the owner and manager of three Edmonds apartment buildings over allegations she refused to rent to families with children, in violation of the federal Fair Housing Act.

“The Fair Housing Act prohibits apartment owners and managers from denying housing to families because they have children,” Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division said in a news release.

The Department of Justice sued apartment manager Debbie A. Appleby, of Stanwood, in March, alleging the housing-act violations occurred at three Edmonds rental properties, at 201 Fifth Ave. N., 621 Fifth Ave. S. and 401 Pine St. Appleby controls three limited-liability corporations that own the buildings and were also named as defendants.

The suit alleged that in March 2014, Appleby told a woman seeking an apartment for herself, her husband and their 1-year-old child that the rental properties were “adult only” and not available to her family. The suit also contended Appleby or her firms advertised available apartments in the three buildings as restricted to adults only during various times from April 2014 to November 2015.

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The family later filed a complaint with the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which investigated and issued a discrimination charge against Appleby and her firms. HUD also referred the case to the Justice Department.

The Fair Housing Act bars discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, gender, familial status, national origin and disability.

“Equal access to housing is essential for all Americans, including families with young children,” said U.S. Attorney Annette 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 $95,000 settlement includes:

• $35,000 in damages to a family that they turned away because the family had a small child;

• $35,000 to compensate other families that were impacted by the defendants’ practices; and

• $25,000 as a…

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