United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
S. ZILLY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter came before the Court on September 18, 2017 on a bench
trial limited to the issue of damages. The Court, being fully
advised, now enters its Findings of Fact and Conclusions of
FINDINGS OF FACT
Plaintiff Fair Housing Center of Washington
(“FHCW”) is a non-profit fair housing
organization incorporated under the laws of the State of
Washington, located in Tacoma, Washington. FHCW's mission
is to identify and eliminate discriminatory housing practices
and to ensure equal housing is available to all people,
without regard to race, religion, sex, national origin,
disability, or familial status. FHCW provides various
programs and services designed to eliminate housing
discrimination through counseling, education, advocacy,
research, and enforcing fair housing laws.
pursuit of its mission, FHCW provides fair housing testing
services. Since 1995, the agency's pool of trained
testers has conducted approximately 3, 000 rental, sales, and
mortgage lending tests in Western and Central Washington.
During tests, trained individuals pose as prospective tenants
or purchasers to gather information about whether a housing
provider is complying with fair housing laws. A pair of
testers typically conducts the test: one poses as a member of
the protected class, the other represents the control group.
Defendant Breier-Scheetz Properties is incorporated in
Washington and does business in the Western District of
Washington. Breier-Scheetz Properties owns and manages
multifamily residential properties, and owned and operated
the Granada Apartments at 1736 Belmont Avenue in Seattle,
Washington (the “Granada”) at all times relevant
to this litigation.
Defendant Frederick Breier-Scheetz is an owner of Defendant
Breier-Scheetz Properties (collectively,
“Defendants”), is a property manager at the
Granada, and oversees all of Breier-Scheetz Properties'
Granada is a 96-unit apartment building. It comprises 60
studio apartments that are at least 400 square feet, plus six
larger studios. None of the studios has a designated parking
Defendants allow only one person to rent the Granada's
studio apartments. Defendant Frederick Breier-Scheetz
developed this restriction over time since the late 1970s.
all times relevant to this litigation, Defendants controlled
and directed the actions of their property managers and
employees, including Gary and Joanne Huth, and managed and
operated the Granada.
2012 and 2013, FHCW performed pair fair housing tests during
which Gary and Joanne Huth informed the testers that the
Granada enforced a one-person-per-studio policy.
filed a complaint dated March 4, 2014, against Defendants
with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
(“HUD”). The complaint alleged that the
Defendants improperly denied housing or made housing
unavailable based on familial status. Through a work-sharing
agreement, the Seattle Office for Civil Rights (SOCR)
investigated the complaint.
This Court granted FHCW's motion for summary judgment on
liability, docket no. 42, ruling: “Defendants'
one-person-per studio occupancy restriction at the Granada
has a disparate impact on families with children in violation
of the Fair Housing Act, Washington Law Against
Discrimination, and Seattle Municipal Code.”
FHCW charges $700 for fair housing tests. FHCW charges $700
for fair housing training sessions. Each quarter, FHCW's
staff spend five hours, at $100 per hour, monitoring
prospective tenant inquiries. Distributing print and video
public service advertisements about fair housing and familial
status protection in the Seattle area, via a contractor
called the Causeway Agency, costs a total of $4, 535.