Landlords to pay $850K settlement

Published:

MASSILLON -- A couple who owns three northeast Ohio apartment complexes has agreed to pay $850,000 to settle a federal bias complaint in which they were accused of limiting the number of blacks and families with children to whom they would rent.

Seventeen people will receive a portion of the settlement from John and Mary Ruth, who own apartment complexes in Massillon in Stark County.

The consent order containing the settlement was filed Monday in federal court in Cleveland. An attorney for the Ruths declined to comment, but the order says the couple denied violating any housing laws.

The complaint says managers were told by the Ruths that only one-third of apartment units at their complexes could house black residents. Families with children were discouraged from renting and were limited basement and first-floor apartments, the complaint said.

Managers were told to pressure black people and families to move out of the Ruths' apartments and to manufacture reasons to evict them, the complaint said. Ten former employees testified about the Ruths' discriminatory practices.

The settlement calls for the Ruths to hire an independent company to manage their rental properties, to provide training about federal and state housing laws to all employees and agents involved in managing or maintaining their properties, and to implement a program using an independent third-party to detect and prevent discrimination against renters because of their race or because they have children.

A federal judge must approve the settlement agreement.

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