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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.
Be sure to leave PLP a review of your experiences on Yelp or Google+:
And, if you'd like to apply for a career with Pacific Living Properties:
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.
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/
*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. :)
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.
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.
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.
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. . . .
@24, green_fox is absolutely correct.
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.
And you write a column?
Sister, you missed the boat here, they would have been crucified and you were guaranteed treble damages.
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
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.
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.
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?
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.
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?