Apartment Complexes in Chester, Lancaster and Montgomery Counties Pay $34,224 To Settle Federal Housing Discrimination Lawsuit

For Immediate Release
August 30, 2006

Contact: James Berry, Executive Director
Fair Housing Council of Suburban Philadelphia

Swarthmore, PA-- The Fair Housing Council of Suburban Philadelphia (FHCSP) settled a federal lawsuit against PMMC Management Company, Audubon Manor Apartments in West Chester, Norris Hills Apartments in Norristown; Goshen Manor Apartments in West Goshen; Highland Manor Apartments in North Coventry; Royersford Gardens in Royersford; Goshen Terrace Apartments in West Goshen; Perkiomen Apartments in Pennsburg; and Miller’s Crossing in Millersville for violating the familial status provision of the federal Fair Housing Act and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act.  FHCSP determined, through testing, that PMMC applied occupancy policies that disparately impacted families with children.

Timothy and Christen Moroney contacted FHCSP in July 2005 after the couple received a letter from Audubon Apartments in West Chester stating that their lease would not be renewed.  The Moroney’s were planning on renewing their lease at the end of October at Audubon Apartments which is owned and managed by PMMC Management Company.   The couple and their young child rented a two bedroom apartment in the complex and were expecting a second child.  Timothy Moroney was told by Audubon Apartments that the reason for the non renewal was that the complex would only allow three individuals to live in a two bedroom unit.   FHCSP investigation confirmed that Audubon Manor Apartments and six other complexes managed by PMMC in Montgomery, Chester and Lancaster Counties had discriminatory policies that would not allow a family of four to live in a two bedroom apartment.

The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in any aspect of the sale, rental, insuring, financing or advertising of dwellings on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex or familial status (the presence of children in the family) and disability.  The U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) issued a statement of policy describing the guidelines it will use in evaluating occupancy limits to determine whether they comply with the Fair Housing Act's prohibition on familial status discrimination.  This memo states that HUD believes that an occupancy policy of two persons in a bedroom, as a general rule, is reasonable under the Fair Housing Act.

FHCSP and the Moroney’s retained the assistance of, Arthur Haywood, Esq. of Haywood LLC, and on October 4, 2005, FHCSP and the Moroney’s filed suit in federal district court against PMMC.  PMMC allowed the couple to remain in their apartment while litigation was ongoing.  In order to avoid further expenses, the parties agreed to a settlement in which PMMC paid $34,224 to the Moroney’s and FHCSP.  Plaintiff attorney fees are included in that amount as well.  PMMC admitted no wrongdoing and changed their occupancy policy at the onset of litigation.  In addition, PMMC rental agents will attend fair housing training to ensure continued compliance with the Fair Housing Act. PMMC was represented by Danielle Banks, Esq., of Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young, LLP.

James Berry, FHCSP’s Executive Director, stated “Access to housing for families with children continues to be problem 18 years after Congress made it illegal to discriminate based on familial status. Young families should not have to endure the emotional trauma of being told they would have to live elsewhere simply because an apartment manager noticed that they were expecting a baby.  We applaud the Moroney’s courage to challenge PMMC’s discriminatory practice.”

FHCSP, founded in 1956, is the nation’s oldest fair housing organization. FHCSP’s mission is to educate and advocate for equal access to quality, affordable. Anyone suspecting that they were denied housing for discriminatory reasons or housing providers who want information on how they can operate their business in a nondiscriminatory manner should contact FHCSP at 610-604-4411 or visit www.fhcsp.com.