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My Standoff with a Landlord After I Kept Getting Rent-Increase Notices in Violation of My Lease

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My life hasn't been all cupcakes and limousines since my article "The Rent Hike" was published in The Stranger last January. That piece described what happened when my apartment building at 20th and Madison was bought by a new company, and the new property managers, Pacific Living Properties (PLP), began to remodel and serve alarmingly steep rent increases to tenants, in some cases doubling the rents. In the months after that piece was published, all the tenants would move out.

Except for me. The days went weirdly by, jammed with laborers and roving renovation entrepreneurs. Nights were especially rough. The building is enormous, and all the gutted units gave it a lonesome, postapocalyptic vibe. But I stuck around anyway, waiting out my 13-month lease.

My rent was fixed under its protection, but that didn't stop PLP from administering a series of rent-increase notices that I understood to be in violation of tenant laws. Every couple months, I'd get a notice taped to my door or delivered by e-mail. (I didn't know this then, but to have legal bearing, rent-increase notices must be served in person, or delivered with verifiable mail receipts. I don't believe any of mine were. I certainly don't remember signing for anything.) There were three notices in all, slating monthly $480 to $580 rent increases to begin before the expiration of my lease, and/or the notices failed to provide the proper 60-day notice, as required when housing costs increase 10 percent or more, as specified in Seattle's Rental Agreement Regulation Ordinance. As I mentioned in my article last January, PLP rescinded the first increase after I mailed them a copy of my lease. The next two rent-hike notices occurred after that article was published. I'd contact PLP apartment manager Lorrie Bowen and/or regional manager Jason Alldredge explaining why I believed the notices were in violation, and neither would respond, so I continued to pay my previously agreed-upon rent by the first of each month.

Perhaps this all wasn't as bad as I thought it was, PLP CEO Jeff Miller told me during a face-to-face interview after I'd moved out. The unanswered e-mails or phone calls to Bowen and Alldredge demonstrated the virtues of his company, he said: "When you showed them they made a mistake, they did not try to force the issue. They rescinded it, by not responding."

Miller's view aside, I found it profoundly disquieting to get repeatedly hit up at random and then left in the dark. Returning home from work every day, I braced myself for whatever might be taped to my apartment door. Shit would only continue to get real. Bowen confronted me on my building's lawn one afternoon, saying the company decided I owed them money, and a three-day pay-or-vacate notice was looming. "We've given you three rent increases, and you've ignored them all," she said, from what I remember.

"But none have been legal," I said.

I felt both rushed and clogged inside, trying to control that conversation. I showed her a notice and pointed to the effective date, slated to begin before my lease's expiration. "I'm just the messenger," she said again and again, suggesting that my proof made no difference. I remember calling Alldredge that evening and getting no response. I then e-mailed Bowen and Alldredge the next day; again, no response.

So I waited, because I didn't know what else to do. The promised three-day pay-or-vacate notice arrived a couple weeks later. The balance showed $1,010. I was sure I was fucked, with only two options: pay them the money or pack up everything I own in three days and get out.

Opting to do nothing was not a choice. Even though I believed PLP was in the wrong, ignoring this notice would have been deeply reckless. If a three-day pay-or-vacate notice is properly served, property managers can file an eviction action against you, also known as an "unlawful detainer," with very little evidence, said Jim Metz, the City of Seattle's owner/tenant assistance supervisor at the Department of Planning and Development (DPD). This can suggest you've failed to pay rent and you've failed to respond to a three-day pay-or-vacate notice. "Once it's filed in court, this becomes public record," said Metz. "It's so deadly to tenants because the record doesn't go away, even if the case is dismissed. The fact that it was even filed becomes a mark against your current tenancies." If you were applying for apartments, this eviction summons "would appear during screening processes, and in a tough rental market, you'd probably lose good opportunities," potentially confining one's living options to sublets or bad locations or seedy apartments.

Being a Capitol Hill–based renter with no long-term home-owning prospects, such a filing could be my doom. Immediately after I received the notice, I spoke with DPD staff, who corresponded with Bowen directly and requested the notices' proofs of service. From my understanding, Bowen claimed she'd sent them all through certified mail, though, again, I don't remember signing for them. Bowen did not produce the receipts, and soon after, she rescinded the three-day pay-or-vacate notice, left me a voice-mail apology, and fully refunded my security deposit.

I moved to another Capitol Hill apartment, a two-bedroom I now share with a roommate. It's smaller, but the rent is the same as it was in my old one-bedroom, so I can afford to stay on the hill (for now). I'm relieved I escaped PLP and their constant hassles, though I was compelled to hear their side. Bowen declined to be interviewed for this article. Alldredge did not respond to my voice mail requesting an interview. But as I said, CEO Jeff Miller did talk to me, and he went so far as to say: "I think based on what I've heard about your experience, I can understand why it'd be negative. I apologize for that. You shouldn't have gone through it."

"I felt your company was bullying me," I said.

"If that's in fact what happened, that's not the same as bullying somebody... What I would say is [my company] made a series of mistakes, but your rent was never actually increased, and you chose to move out. Were you charged the higher rent? No. In the end, they did not charge you the higher rent."

Miller is correct, in a way. I did move out on my own accord, even if it's because I was exhausted by the repeated and powerfully stressful sessions with PLP that threatened my housing and left me scrambling to prove my innocence or face serious consequences. Although companies like PLP can't always collect money from sloppily administered rent increases and verbal warnings and three-day pay-or-vacate notices, they're still free to administer as many as they want: "There's nothing practical that would stop it. It doesn't serve tenants well, but it's not against the law," said Metz.

"What would you recommend for tenants in a similar situation?" I asked.

"If you get into a dispute with your landlord that could potentially threaten your housing, you need to address it immediately. Don't assume an internet search is going to turn up the right answers. Call us. If I knew about us, I'd call us," said Metz. He's at 615-0808. recommended

 

Comments (45) RSS

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TomJohnsonJr 1
Jesus fuck, how awful.
Posted by TomJohnsonJr on December 18, 2013 at 9:29 AM · Report this
2
renting on the hill has become a nightmare.
Posted by Adrian Ryan on December 18, 2013 at 9:39 AM · Report this
3
This type of behavior from Landowners is a cancer infecting all of Capitol Hill. It's sad, but true. Pacific Living Properties are doing the same thing on Queen Anne right now.
Posted by PLPDestroyer on December 18, 2013 at 10:25 AM · Report this
4
I used to serve evictions as a process server for a couple years, a while back. Ultimately, the likelihood of a potential landlord checking the court history for any rental disputes is not high. Hell, I've been renting in Seattle since '99, and have NEVER had my rental history checked by any landlord.

And the major issue here is that PLP was completely in the wrong, and you could have - if you went to court- asked for up to 3 times your deposit in penalty fees from your landlord for violating the LTA. Not to mention they were over 2 weeks late in returning your deposit, which would ALSO have warranted penalties, etc.

Property management companies in this town are fucking vultures. It completely astounds me that they hire property managers who have NO CONCEPT of the LTA, or are coaches to ignore the law to wrangle money out of renters.
Posted by manofoar on December 18, 2013 at 10:43 AM · Report this
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6
A list of PLP-owned properties so they could be avoided would be nice.
Posted by lucyboots on December 18, 2013 at 12:23 PM · Report this
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Unregistered User 8
I wouldn't rent from that company, but your experience doesn't sound nearly as terrible as I'd expected. I guess my expectations have hit rock bottom.
Posted by Unregistered User on December 18, 2013 at 1:15 PM · Report this
9
@lucyboots Here are the Seattle apartments managed by Pacific Living Properties

http://pacificliving.com/seattle/

Be sure to leave PLP a review of your experiences on Yelp or Google+:

http://www.yelp.com/biz/pacific-living-p…

https://plus.google.com/1070112738262884…

And, if you'd like to apply for a career with Pacific Living Properties:

http://www.indeed.com/job/regional-prope…
Posted by PLPAnonymous on December 18, 2013 at 1:31 PM · Report this
superhyrulean 10
Well,it works like this:if you rent from these asshole landlords,they work for corporations that do other services... For example,I personally live on captiol hill under "pioneer housing services"... But,they are a INDUSTRIAL/FOOD/DRUG TREATMENT/MENTAL HEALTH services as well as housing and they work DIRECTLY THROUGH THE STATE and have the cops and court system on their side...this multi tasking corporation has the right to change it's services how it sees fit because it is NOT JUST a low income housing service...that allows their landlords to do dirty shit like this and raise rents or fuck anyone over...
Posted by superhyrulean on December 18, 2013 at 6:13 PM · Report this
superhyrulean 11
They can lie and bullshit and say they are doing a good service to the state and get $$$ from multiple corporations while fucking over the poor little renters and they work directly through law enforcement through drug treatment and mental health services...the landlord in my building has bug inspections EVERY MONTH and raises the rent $14 every year...ive lived here on the hill for 14 years and it has shot up $140+...and NEVER ONCE I was notified personally...I only received the notice just like the woman in the story:Taped to the door...
Posted by superhyrulean on December 18, 2013 at 6:22 PM · Report this
12
@8, I agree. I was expecting to hear about utility stoppages, unannounced "renovations" to the apartment that leave important things inoperable for days (sinks, toilets, showers, appliances), and court actions. That *is* sad.

However, the strategy of raising rent (legally or illegally) is a favorite of management companies to evict tenants "in kind." They prey on the ignorance of those they're stuck with (those with long-term leases) to try to price them out faster ("oh, you can't pay this...well, if you agreed to forfeit your security deposit and move out by the end of the month, we could break your lease") and oust those who are MTM with often-legal rent increases (in the low, low amount of time of 60 days, you can be legally gone). I'll admit to having done it (100% LEGALLY, with PROPER NOTICE (actually, a bit more than required...about 75 days) and AT THE END OF THE LEASE TERM) to a tenant I didn't particularly like. While, in theory, I am free to not renew a tenant (again, with proper notice at the end of a lease term) for no reason at all, in practice, around these parts, doing so often gets the landlord sued, which at least wastes your time and, often, results in judgement against you...and if you know they can't afford a 10% rent increase...

Anywho, now having been on both sides of the coin in numerous states, here's some advice:

READ YOUR LEASE BEFORE YOU SIGN IT. Mine is 6 pages of single-spaced 12-point font. I'll happily sit there while you read the whole thing (in practice, after accepting a tenant, I usually email it to them in advance of meeting to sign it). ASK QUESTIONS IF THERE'S SOMETHING YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND. DO NOT ACCEPT "OH YOU DON'T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT THAT" OR ANY OTHER BS AS AN ANSWER. If there's something you don't understand and the landlord cannot give you a complete, satisfactory explanation, wait and at least Google it, if not consult a lawyer. BE PARTICULARLY CAUTIOUS OF ANY TERMS THAT ALLOW RENT INCREASES BEFORE THE LEASE EXPIRES. For example, for "major repairs" or "property improvements." Ask for clarification on these items. If you break something and it needs major fixing to get it back to MOVE-IN condition, that should either be coming out of your security deposit or a one-off payment, not justify a permanent rent increase. You should be able to decline major improvements to the property during your tenancy (yes, that should be in writing), except those required to comply with laws and codes. If you agree to any improvements or any are required to bring the place up-to-snuff, you should demand to know what they want in additional rent beforehand, demand receipts, and demand a negotiated early termination if you can't afford the new price or don't think it's fair rent anymore.

If you receive any notices that you believe violate your lease during your term, RESPOND TO THEM IN WRITING, VIA SNAIL MAIL (CERTIFIED IS BEST, BUT JUST A RETURN RECEIPT IS GENERALLY SUFFICIENT). Cite the portion of your lease you believe is being violated word-for-word. Demand an explanation of how the notice complies with your lease and applicable landlord tenant laws, IN WRITING, AND GIVE THEM A DEADLINE (10-14 DAYS IS USUALLY GOOD). If they call or email their response, record the date and time of the communication, all specifics (who you talked to, what they said), BUT DO NOT SAY ANYTHING. On the phone, get the facts (name, position, reference) and then say "please send me a letter with your response." Via email, reply and say the same thing. Don't hesitate to talk to a tenant advocate, landlord-tenant clinic, or lawyer from the get-go.

If you find yourself moving out early, beyond getting a written statement of the terms of the early termination, know that the landlord must make a good-faith, continuous, and immediate effort to rent the apartment and they CANNOT charge you rent for any time after the apartment is re-occupied. If they choose to leave the apartment vacant (to make renovations, to convert to for-sale units, or FOR ANY OTHER REASON), you don't owe them A DIME of continuing rent. If they turn down qualified tenants, YOU DO NOT OWE THEM A DIME. If you bring them qualified sub-lettors, and they decline them without cause, YOU DO NOT OWE THEM A DIME.

Go read the landlord-tenant laws for your area. You may not understand every word of them, but they're generally basic enough that you'll walk away with a decent understanding of your rights and responsibilities. I say that as a NON-LAWYER (one who, I might add, has successfully sued one landlord and one roommate without representation).

Finally, know that most landlord-tenant cases are handled in small claims court or special landlord-tenant court. The rules in these fora are easier to understand and less rigid. Most places, these are staffed by magistrates and not judges, and even offer arbitration in many cases. It's more of a negotiation than a trial. Also remember that the burden of proof in such fora is, almost always, "the preponderance of the evidence." You don't have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that your landlord violated your lease or rights, only that it's more likely they did than not. It still pays to be prepared, and to consult a professional (paid or free, most places offer some free help to tenants and claimants in small claims court) if the case is significant or you're confused. Also, filing fees are usually low (they're $15 here, I've seen them as low as $5 and as high as $50), so don't stand for someone trampling your rights. Here, you can even pick your court date as the complainant.
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Posted by Ms. D on December 18, 2013 at 6:51 PM · Report this
13
@4 - I am a resident manager for an apartment building in West Seattle and I ALWAYS check past rental history. Every time. And lying about it has cost some prospective tenants the opportunity to rent there. I always tell them that I can handle a "weird" rental history but I have no tolerance for an inaccurate (deliberately so) rental history. I am only saying this so someone doesn't think that NO ONE checks rental histories, even if that has been your experience.

That said, this management company should be taken to court. I cannot believe that they got away with treating people this way. Here is another good resource if anyone finds themselves in similar circumstances: http://www.tenantsunion.org/
Posted by charity on December 18, 2013 at 9:46 PM · Report this
14
Also, I should note that once said tenant I "ousted" with an obscene rent increase notified that she would not be staying, I dropped the rent right back down to where it was when I advertised. I wasn't trying to get rid of her because I thought I could get more or anything else "greedy," I just got annoyed with:

*her persistent calls for "an emergency" (no further details left on my voicemail). Only to show up and find that the garbage disposal needed reset (yes, I showed her how to push the button times innumerable, and no other tenant before or after had *quite* so much trouble with it tripping...hmmmmm...) or she had forgotten how to use the programmable thermostat and it was chilly because she was home on a workday and "didn't know" how to override the setting SHE programmed (also demonstrated this multiple times, including how to just set the temp the same at all hours);
*her persistently insisting that the "postmark" date counted as paying her rent on time. She'd always send it on the last day of the grace period...and, yes, I offered to let her pay electronically or by dropping the check by my house only 2 blocks away in person...and, no, she wasn't poor...and, no, that's not enough to make me try an eviction - those are hard and I wouldn't bet that the magistrate would see anything but a "good faith effort" to pay the rent:
*and constant complaints from the neighbors that she was very rude about everything. Apparently she'd called the cops on everyone in the building about one thing or another (never any charges...HUH? wonder WHY?), would slam the front door in other residents' faces if she was going in at the same time as them and say "if you REALLY live here you have your own key," and would leave notes asking people to "stop cluttering up the hallway with their boxes" if something was delivered to someone's door by the mailman.

So...I guess that's also instructive in how to not be an asshole tenant. I am in no way ashamed by taking "the easy way" of getting rid of her via a large proposed rent increase. You just KNOW someone like that would sue over every little thing if I outright declined to renew her. Thankfully she was replaced by a friend of mine who can stay as long as he wants (assuming the association doesn't raise the fees appreciably and there are no unforeseen other expenses, I make plenty off the rent, so I have no need to raise it). I not only get a great, responsible tenant, but someone I can happy hour with on a moment's notice. :)
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Posted by Ms. D on December 18, 2013 at 10:00 PM · Report this
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16
I also have to second @13. I run a credit check and public records check on prospective tenants and call their last landlord. People who are honest about "unusual" circumstances don't get dinged much. I had a lovely tenant for a year whose credit was trashed because she had recently short-sold the home she owned where she used to live. However, she was upfront about her circumstances as soon as I mentioned the credit check, and able to show me that she always made her mortgage payments (the lender, as they are, reported it as "in redemption" after the sale, though she never missed a payment; she also moved hundreds of miles for a good job at the worst of the housing crisis), hadn't missed ANY other payments, had the income and assets to afford the rent, her previous landlord gave her a glowing review, and she believably argued that she was only looking to move from THAT apartment to mine because it cut her commute from an hour to 15 minutes. She walked out of my apartment the OWNER of a nice condo, since she was able to quickly recover through her responsible actions (and I actually ended up giving her props since her lender for that home was one of the more flexible ones and called me for a reference when she applied for the mortgage). Honestly, you can tell (she seemed honestly embarrassed to even be renting...she had been a homeowner for YEARS before the crash and move). People who go through something, but are upfront about it and eager to prove that whatever happened isn't "them" are generally okay folks. People who are shifty and claim their former landlord "just didn't like them" (and then when you say "oh, that's too bad...what about the one before that?" say "oh, HA...um...I don't even know how to contact them...") are put at the bottom of the list.

I guess I empathize because that was me when I first started renting in "the big city." I had been a poor college student, so I missed a credit card payment here and there and my credit was okay but not outstanding. BUT I could give landlords a long list of OTHER landlords who could attest that I ALWAYS paid my rent on time and took good care of my home. Obvs people with good credit and references don't have to worry about much. Those with blemishes would do well to provide the best explanation they can, while being upfront and honest.

And, FWIW, I don't slam that tenant I ousted. I carefully say that she was never officially deficient in her payments ("I did not have to make deductions from her security deposit for late or missed payments"), she kept the property in good order and I did not have to make major repairs at her fault during or after her tenancy, and "it's my impression that she might be happier in a single-family residence or one where she does not share common spaces with other residents." AFAIK, she now lives in a unit with a private street entrance (prospective landlord: "oh, there's a separate entrance to that unit...so, is that what you meant?" me: "that would probably be more to her liking"), so maybe she really got what she wanted.
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Posted by Ms. D on December 18, 2013 at 10:36 PM · Report this
17
Another former resident of Marti's building here, one of the last 4 to move out (having been one of the most recent to move in prior to PLP buying the building). Marti's characterization of PLP's bullying is spot on, but it wasn't *just* the rent-related notices that made living there an absolute hell. In the end, my rent increased by nearly 50% and I moved out, but for months I had to deal with frequent water and heat shut-offs, two holes busted through my wall (while they were doing construction on my empty neighboring units), a flooded bathroom (from improper plumbing on the unite above me), weekly notices-of-entry for unexplained reasons, unbelievable amounts of noise and construction debris ... and the list goes on. And, like Marti, my phone calls and emails to Lorie Bowen and Jason Alldredge went unanswered every. single. goddamn. time.
Posted by green_fox on December 18, 2013 at 11:07 PM · Report this
18
Oh god lord, Seattle really needs a tenant rights act. Forget about rental control, a tenants rights act is a first place to start.
Posted by j2patter on December 19, 2013 at 12:30 AM · Report this
Puty 19
Rich people gots too many special rights.
Posted by Puty on December 19, 2013 at 7:30 AM · Report this
20
What a bunch of NIMBY's
Posted by F'n F'gs on December 19, 2013 at 10:40 AM · Report this
21
If you are not sure of your rights as a tenant or if something your landlord is doing is legal, calling King County 2-1-1 can be a good first step. We have referrals for tenants rights organizations and other legal resoures for housing situations.
Posted by Daniel @ 211 on December 19, 2013 at 11:21 AM · Report this
22
The Seattle Solidarity Network takes on cases like this all the time - and often wins. Check 'em out at seasol.net
Posted by renter1 on December 19, 2013 at 12:14 PM · Report this
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24
@21 and @22 - I, and others in the building, did a ton of research for tenants resources and reached out to the city (specifically Jim Metz, mentioned in the article), Tenants Union, SeaSol, several media organizations, and other organizations. We either never heard back, or were told that nothing technically illegal was being done, so there was nothing we could do. Or that the corrective actions needed to be initiated by PLP - yeah right. The city DPD sent out an inspector to look at the holes in my walls, and construction halted for 3-4 days shortly afterward, but it was never clear why/if the two were connected. One construction worker said the work stoppage had to do with getting the permits "in order."
Posted by green_fox on December 19, 2013 at 1:23 PM · Report this
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FeRDNYC 26
"I did move out on my own accord, even if it's because I was exhausted by the repeated and powerfully stressful sessions with PLP that threatened my housing and left me scrambling to prove my innocence or face serious consequences."

Perhaps Mr. Miller isn't aware, but that's practically a textbook DEFINITION of bullying. Which is exactly what the author suffered under his company's (mis-)management of the apartment, there's no tapdancing around that.
Posted by FeRDNYC http://facebook.com/FeRDNYC/ on December 20, 2013 at 5:23 AM · Report this
27
For tenants who are facing similar situations in Seattle or King Count, in addition to the wonderful people at DPD like Jim Metz and Dulce O'Sullivan, the following resources are availible for tenants with landlord-tenant concerns:

1) The Legal Action Center @ (206) 324-6890 provides free counsel and advice and free representation to low income tenants facing eviction and to tenants whose landlords are in foreclosure;

2) The Housing Justice Project has a "walk-in" only clinic each morning from 8-10:30 am at both the Seattle Superior Courthouse on 3rd and James, and the Kent Regional Justice Center in Kent;

3) The Seattle Tenants union @ (206)723-0500 provides tenants with resources and information regarding landlord tenant laws in WA and Seattle;

4) Solid Ground provides tenants information services; and

5) Calling 2-1-1 may lead you to a list of providers that assist tenants in landlord-tenant related issues.
Posted by Pro Bono Tenant Advocacy on December 20, 2013 at 10:12 AM · Report this
28
As an attorney that has spent my career representing tenants it is all to clear to me that tenants are constantly under the thumb of attorneys. Landlords only are interested in making money and preserving property while tenants are trying to fulfill a basic need. Landlords can control a tenants ability to find housing in the future. what we really need is a special housing court so that tenants can get in front of a judge to enforce their rights quickly, just like landlords have the ability to get an eviction order on an expedited court schedule.
Posted by left handed attorney on December 20, 2013 at 10:16 AM · Report this
29
A couple points on Ms. Jonjak's excellent article:

CEO lying swine, Miller, claims:

Were you charged the higher rent? No.

WTF? Clearly, in the article Ms. Jonjak states:

The promised three-day pay-or-vacate notice arrived a couple weeks later. The balance showed $1,010.

So, clearly and obviously, she was indeed issued an unlawful charge of $1,010.00!

Next, lying swine, CEO Miller claims:

"If that's in fact what happened, that's not the same as bullying somebody...."

Actually, and legally, what they did was clearly extortion, which is against the law and involves jail time by the perpetrators of said extortion.

The PLP criminals broke many laws, over and over again.

They should be held accountable. . . .

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-12-20…
Posted by sgt_doom on December 20, 2013 at 10:37 AM · Report this
30
@13, Charity, cites the Tenants Union, a complete bullcrap operation. Clearly, Charity is a jackhole and not to be trusted!

@24, green_fox is absolutely correct.

Posted by sgt_doom on December 20, 2013 at 10:38 AM · Report this
31
@24, green_fox makes the most important comment:

We either never heard back, or were told that nothing technically illegal was being done.

This city dood mentioned, Metz, along with those organizations, claimed nothing illegal was being done?

Clearly, they are professional liars and not attorneys. Many laws were being broken: extortion, contract law, plus others, I am not expert enough to be aware of but any decent attorney could look up.

These were legally matters involving PLP criminals, to call it anything else is to woefully distort the situation.
Posted by sgt_doom on December 20, 2013 at 10:44 AM · Report this
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33
This is a story, apparently, about how very little you know about your legal protection and resources, provided FREE, to all renters in Seattle.

And you write a column?

Sister, you missed the boat here, they would have been crucified and you were guaranteed treble damages.

Posted by Grow Up! on December 20, 2013 at 12:49 PM · Report this
34
PLP is the worst! We lived in one of their buildings in the Roosevelt neighborhood and it was the worst apartment I have ever lived in. The first 6 months we lived there we lived in a construction zone because they were renovating the apartment below us and next to us. We had a parking spot that we paid for but could never park there because it was either being blocked or a construction truck was parked in it. The walls are thin and so are the floors, you literally hear every noise! They also claim that the building is smoke free but let anyone related to the owner smoke in their apartment. I wouldn't recommend a PLP building to my worst nightmare and the people they have working for them are worthless.
Posted by AbsolutChic on December 21, 2013 at 7:29 AM · Report this
35
If this landlord tried to evict this tenant on these facts, they would lose. The statute, the contract and washington common law all provide that this is a reason to award the tenant their reasonable attorney fees. If you follow through, and make the Court enter an order that awards fees and finds that the landlord had no basis to file this, you can send copies of that order to the credit reporting agencies and make them update their records to reflect the actual outcome- namely, that the tenant was not evicted.

Landlords get away with this crap because tenants run away from the situation. There is a case up at the Supreme Court right now concerning whether tenants who prevail in an unlawful detainer should have their case records redacted. If the case record is managed properly, there is no reason to redact. Just be sure you win and that the order requires that you get paid by your landlord. Elizabeth Powell

Posted by E Powell on December 21, 2013 at 10:48 AM · Report this
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37
It is about time we developed law that included prison time for these vultures.
Posted by orange cat on December 21, 2013 at 1:08 PM · Report this
38
why can't these tenants sue? many attorneys would see this as a six figure case and take it on a contingent fee.

they already have rights, but anyone with rights sometimes needs to find an attorney and fucking sue.

relying on other organizations or the city isn't usually how you win in the bigger leagues. they got put in the big leagues here, it wasn't their choice, but it's their suit claiming a million dollars in emotional distress damages for the hodgepodge of intentional torts they would allege plus fucking RICO treble damages plus attorneys fees that would get the landlords attention, force a settlement, maybe $75K, and THAT would make the landlord stop it for the next tenant. if tenants are too under the thumb of the landlords and never sue it's never going to change.
Posted by sue the bastards on December 22, 2013 at 12:15 PM · Report this
Rinelle Boomtown 39
I agree with 37 - it's time to make some actual laws that actually protect tenants. Seattle's system of tenant rights sucks. Yeah things exist, but it's all bullshit. I've dealt with this same thing - terrible landlords and ownership companies. But the only thing there was for me to do was to hire my own lawyer. No one helped me.

The people at Seattle housing authority are just phone operators that give lip service. It's like bad customer service at Apple or Best Buy. They don't give a shit about the tenants, they just want to get off the phone.
Posted by Rinelle Boomtown on December 23, 2013 at 11:01 AM · Report this
Rinelle Boomtown 40
These "ownership companies" know that 99% of the people they're fucking over won't be able to pay for lawyers and actually follow through with getting justice.

The average tenant doesn't have the money or the time to deal with it. We're all too busy working to make money, so we can pay the greedy landlords.

Sadly I don't see it changing any time soon. The system and laws are set up by people who only care about money, to protect people who only care about money.

Average, middle class, hardworking people get fucked over and over. The new mayor won't care. Governor doesn't care. City Council doesn't care.

WHO IS GOING TO CHAMPION THE WORKING PEOPLE? Not just say they are going to do it to get votes. Who is actually going to stand up for people who aren't rich?
Posted by Rinelle Boomtown on December 23, 2013 at 11:07 AM · Report this
41 Comment Pulled (Spam) Comment Policy
42
Why didn't the tenants sue? Bottom line, none of us could afford a lawyer, nor did we have time or resources to pursue other legal action.

I am a full time graduate student, and I work 30 hours/week. I personally reached out to two free law clinics, and both told me I was not eligible for help: one because I was not affiliated with the law school/university, and one because they do not deal in landlord/tenant issues. I wish I'd known about the SHJ walk-in clinic at the Courthouse - but, I would not have been able to go during a weekday morning.

My fellow tenants and I did what we could - and it was just not enough to counteract PLP's faceless, sustained bullying. For the most part, we were busy people with a lot on our plates, low-income, and extremely frustrated. So we left. We had to.
Posted by green_fox on December 23, 2013 at 12:26 PM · Report this
43
@42: HJP doesn't charge if you income-qualify. You don't have to sue, my point was if this landlord sued this tenant they would lose and this tenant would win and get fees. I'm not trying to berate you for not trying hard enough!
Posted by E Powell on December 23, 2013 at 3:54 PM · Report this
44
Sorry folks, but it's legitimate for landlords to raise the rent. They own the property, they have expenses to pay, and for the time being, it's not a criminal act to seek profits. If you don't like it, then move out, or work hard, save up and buy your own place. That might be a good education for you in understanding all of the costs and headaches involved in maintaining real estate.
Posted by Another perspective on December 24, 2013 at 1:15 PM · Report this
45
@44: It is not legitimate for the landlord to raise the rent when the lease (which is a contract to which the landlord agreed) says that the rent is fixed for the term of the lease. When the lease comes up for renewal? Sure, raise the rent all you want. During the term of a lease that says fixed rent? No, you cannot raise the rent.

As for "work hard, save up and buy your own place", how are you supposed to do that when all the landlords keep raising rents to get that money for themselves rather you being able to save it up?
Posted by And another perspective on December 28, 2013 at 3:28 PM · Report this

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