Washington state landlords pay twice for family complaints

A single mother from Maple Valley, Washington won $3,640 in settlements in two separate family status complaints against a neighbor and her landlords.  The settlements, which were reached earlier this year with the assistance of the King County Office of Civil Rights Enforcement, also required the landlords to change certain discriminatory policies and attend fair housing training.

 The woman, identified only as Connie in the Washington State Fair Housing Update, moved into a two-bedroom apartment in the Maple Valley complex when her children lived with their father.  About a month into Connie’s tenancy, her oldest daughter came to live with her.  Her two other children then visited her for the summer.

 Connie said that her neighbor and her landlords harassed her for the entire time that her children lived with her.  They also tried to force Connie and her kids into a larger, more expensive apartment.  There were no other families with children living in Connie’s building.

 Not wanting to move out of her apartment, Connie contacted the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).  HUD referred her to the King County Office of Civil Rights Enforcement (OCRE).  The OCRE brought Connie and her landlords together for a Fact Finding/Resolution Conference.  The investigator in charge told the landlords that it was illegal to force families to live in certain areas or buildings within the complex and that they could not make or enforce policies against families with children.  In a pre-finding settlement agreement, the landlords agreed to pay $1,500 and rescind an eviction notice which had been sent to Connie.

 Despite the settlement, Connie was forced to contact the OCRE again, asserting that her neighbor was still harassing her about her children living with her and that her landlords were ignoring her complaints and retaliating against her by sending her notices of rules violations.