• Feds sue Edmonds landlord for anti-child housing policy

    By: Essex Porter

    Updated:

    EDMONDS, Wash. - Three apartment complexes in Edmonds that are accused of discriminating against families with kids are facing a federal lawsuit.

    They're accused of violating the Fair Housing Act.

    Three years ago, Ashley Sytsma and her husband tried to rent an apartment at 621 5th Avenue South, but they were refused, they say, because they had a 1-year old son.

    “At first I was confused. I didn't understand why someone wouldn't want to rent to a family,” Sytsma said.

    But she knew that discriminating against children is illegal. And she kept the text messages she exchanged with landlord Debbie A. Appleby. Now they are part of the federal government’s complaint.

    Sytsma: "I see you have a 2 bedroom on 621 5th ave s for $1400 in an active building. Is that available?"

    Appleby: "All apartments are adult only."

    Sytsma: "As a property manager, you must know that discriminating against children is illegal."

    Appleby: "We have a child policy which is the right of the landlord."

    Today Sytsma said, “I felt compelled to bring these landlords to task, to tell them that, 'No you can't do this to my town. You can't do this to families in my community,'” Sytsma said.

    The Sytsmas are ready to testify in court, for themselves and their children.

    Husband Ryan is thinking of now 4-year-old Oliver. “We want him, when he's 14-16 years old and when Eve, our daughter, is in junior high to look back and say, 'No, mom and dad saw something that was an injustice, that was not just hurting our family but hurting other people in the region, and they stood up.'”

    Debbie Appleby owns two other apartment complexes in Edmonds. All three are part of the lawsuit. We left two messages for her, but have yet to hear back.

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