Cupertino Mother Gets $40,000 in Family Settlement

A Cupertino couple have agreed to settle a housing discrimination case in which they denied an apartment to an otherwise qualified renter due to the presence in the household of a child.  This violation of law has resulted in a monetary settlement of $40,000 and a promise by the owners to comply with fair housing laws.

In March of 1993 Laura and Ryan Howell, a single mother and her nine year old son attempted to rent a two-bedroom apartment in Cupertino owned by George and Sonia Heidemann.  They were told by Ms. Heidemann that even though the apartment was being advertised and shown, it would not be available to rent by the time Ms. Howell needed to move.

Several days later, Ms. Howell saw an advertisement in a local newspaper for the same apartment and decided to telephone the Heidemanns regarding it.  Sonia Heidemann, not knowing who was calling, asked Ms. Howell who the unit was for and was told it was for herself and her nine year old son.

Ms. Heidemann then told Ms. Howell that the apartment would not be rented to her solely because she had a child.  This constituted a violation of state and federal fair housing laws.

Laura Howell then contacted Midpeninsula Citizens for Fair Housing in Palo Alto which conducted an investigation to determine if there was evidence of housing discrimination.  When it was determined that discrimination against families with children apparently was occurring, the case was referred to San Francisco attorney, Ann Menasche who negotiated the settlement.

In addition to the monetary settlement, the Heidemanns agreed to comply with all fair housing laws.

The defendants admit no liability in the matter.