Washington Community Settles Claims of Discriminating Against Families with Children

The owners and manager of three apartment buildings in Washington have agreed to pay $95,000 in damages and civil penalties to resolve a lawsuit charging them with refusing to rent to families with children, according to a recent announcement by the Justice Department.

In its complaint, the department alleged that a manager told a woman seeking an apartment for herself, her husband, and their one-year-old child that the apartment buildings were “adult only.” The complaint also alleged that the defendants advertised their apartments as being in “adult buildings.” The family filed a complaint with HUD, which conducted an investigation, issued a charge of discrimination, and referred the case to the Justice Department.

Under the settlement, the community agreed to pay $35,000 in damages to the family and $35,000 to compensate other families allegedly harmed by the community’s practices, along with a $25,000 civil penalty. The community also agreed to adopt nondiscriminatory policies and practices to ensure compliance with fair housing law, and to submit to recordkeeping and monitoring requirements for a three-year period.

“The Fair Housing Act prohibits apartment owners and managers from denying housing to families because they have children,” Acting Assistant Attorney General John M. Gore of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said in a statement. “We will continue to vigorously enforce the Fair Housing Act’s prohibition of discrimination against families with children.”

“No family should be denied a place to live simply because they have a child,” added Anna Maria Farias, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “HUD will continue to work with the Justice Department to ensure that property owners comply with their obligations under the nation’s fair housing laws.”