U.S. Sues Landlord Who Won't Rent to Children

Monday, March 6, 2017
June Williams
Courthouse News Service

The Department of Justice sued a suburban Seattle landlord for refusing to rent to families with children at three of her apartment buildings, in violation of the Fair Housing Act.

Debbie Appleby allegedly told a woman seeking an apartment for herself, her husband, and their 1-year-old child that the apartment buildings in Edmonds, Washington were “adult only” and not available for her.

The woman, Ashley Sytsma, said she told Appleby that unless the apartments had a senior community exemption, it was illegal to discriminate against children. Appleby replied it was the “right of the landlord” to exclude children, according to the March 3 federal complaint.

Sytsma and her husband filed a complaint with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development and an investigation found illegal discriminatory housing practices.

The Department of Justice brought federal charges against Appleby and her three LLCs, Apple One, Apple Two and Apple Three, for violating the Fair Housing Act, and seeks an injunction preventing Appleby from excluding families in her apartments.

“Equal access to housing is essential for all Americans, including families with young children,” U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes of the Western District of Washington said in a statement.

“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.”

Edmonds, pop. 41,000, is 11 miles north of Seattle on Puget Sound. The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment there is $1,210 a month, and $1,438 for a two-bedroom, according to the rentjungle.com website. In Seattle, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $1,946, and $2,736 for a two-bedroom, according to rentjungle.

Appleby’s attorney, Lowell H. Ashbach Jr. of Marysville, Washington, did not immediately return an email request for comment sent over the weekend.

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