Developers of the Watergate West cooperative apartments have agreed to a $600,000, out-of-court settlement of a suit brought by the building's residents five years ago over alleged defects in their luxury units.

While they agreed to the settlement earlier this month, Watergate Improvements Associates, Inc., the developers, continue to deny liability for such problems as heating and ventilation failures.

But now that the suit is settled, no one wants to talk about it.

The most Henry Winston, spokesman for the developers, will say is that the settlement was made because "both sides realized they were spending more in legal fees than they wanted."

The most Mark Friedlander Sr., attorney for the residents, would say about the case is "It involved only money; no principles."

One source said the reason the developers finally agreed to a settlement was their wish not to have a lawsuit pending while negotiations are going on for sale of the Watergate complex. The Watergate West at 2700 Virginia Ave. NW - where apartments now sell for as much as $250,000 - is one of three apartment buildings in the Watergate compound, which also includes a hotel and two office buildings.

When the Watergate West opened in 1969, residents complained about faulty air-conditioning, leaky roofs, bad plumbing and defective kitchen appliances in what was being advertised at the time as "the ultimate in luxury in cooperative living."

Recently, after court delays, the owners hired a contractor to make improvements at their own expense. One resident, who said her air-conditioning had been "inadequate" during five previous summers, reported it had been repaired and is working "much better" now.

The developers reportedly spent $250,000 to repair leaks in another of the complex's buildings, Watergate East.

The Washington West suit charged a variety of defects in the building, including:

Inadequate air-conditioning in 70 per cent of the apartments.

Water damage in 40 per cent of the units. Moisture, the suit alleged, had infiltrated the walls and ceilings in numerous apartments.

Defective kitchen appliances in 45 per cent of the apartments.

Plumbing deficiences in more than 22 per cent of the apartments.

"Our building is in pretty good shape today," said Henry King, president of the owners cooperative. "We're satisfied (with the repairs and settlement)". He refused to comment further.