Hello – my name is Chris. I eventually would like to own real estate myself, however, at the moment I am facing some challenges to rent which is what brings me here to ask a question. I work in South Seattle, Washington State at Lighthouse for the Blind and currently live in Lake Stevens renting a bedroom in a house. The bus in Snohomish County does not run early enough for me to leave Lake Stevens, where I live and arrive at work in South Seattle by the time my shift starts. I am unable to drive as I am visually impaired and there is not yet a surgery which can correct it. I have been looking at places to live and have just discovered that my second to last rental location has a collection agency after me (it’s in collections). I currently have a full time job, some unpaid medical bills, and now this against me. As I can understand, landlords would be hesitant to rent to someone with an open collections claim. The building I was living in was a low income program (not Section 8 – federal subsidizing I believe) owned by Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle in South Seattle. The building itself is currently part of the Northwest African American Museum. The management company was Quantum Management Services out of Lynnwood (don’t hire them, I’ve lived among good management, these guys suck). During my stay here, there was a bed bug infestation which I had attempted several times to eradicate in my personal dwelling. I had contacted management several times in regards to figuring out a solution to the problem, however, on initial evaluation by live-in resident property manager, he toured my unit with me and told me they were cockroaches. I told him he was incorrect and that is wrong – because of my visual imparity, I was not taken serious. One time, they did attempt to help exterminate, however, they returned as they were in the building. Eventually after no one at Quantum responding (I called the manager above the live-in several times with no return call), I went to the owners, I left voicemails for both Director of Housing, Linda Taylor and President and Chief Executive Officer, Pamela Banks. After several attempts to call and write letters, Linda Taylor did return my call. She said as they have hired Quantum Management to run the building, she had no control over the situation. My concerns again fell upon deaf ears. Eventually they hired a new property manager, who did care. He ordered three spray treatments, around the time of the third treatment he quit and another property manager came into the situation who again did not care and thus I was left to tackle the problem on my own. Shortly after all this, I served them with a letter (page 3 of the link below) explaining that I needed to vacate the premise. The timing was only three days; however, I wrote to keep my security deposit towards future rent. Some of the charges within here are incorrect, for example: the keys – I left the keys on the counter as my manager was not home to collect them, yet they state they had to buy new ones as I did not return the keys. I left this building last June.
Following all of this (last June) I got rid of all my things, rented a bedroom in Lake Stevens (I could not afford rent anywhere close to Seattle after all this). I have been here since. I now need to return to Seattle so I don’t lose my job.
Does anyone with familiarity of landlord tenant laws in Seattle have any suggestions for me? I honestly feel I did everything I could get to the problem solved from the beginning, however, no one from ownership or management would respond to me. I was left to make a tough decision, but for myself I had to get out of the building as it was running me out of money trying to fix the issue and driving me insane.
The women I currently rent a bedroom from since last June will gladly write me a reference and will be issuing me a full security deposit refund as did all landlords previous to Quantum Management.
Here is a link to the documents which is sent them and which they sent me: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B8N_mVS9GBI6SnBOYnppZ1ktNEUwa05yaC00Z1FkRDBROXJV/view
Thank You Very Much,
I should mention, I do agree that I should pay for rent (not giving enough notice). I had never received this mail. I am prepared to offer them $700 for a settlement as that seems fair for not giving fair notice.
I do not know the specifics of Seattle landlord/tenant law. I would say you did some things incorrectly by not giving proper notice to correct issues to management through certified mail (more to over and prove for yourself). That also included not giving proper notice to vacate however you could have gotten the city inspector involved to help remedy your situation.
Now you are all past that. I would contact them and offer to settle with them for a dollar amount that you feel is fair. Basically let them know that you are not pleased with the whole situation but you would like to settle in order for everyone to be able to move on quickly. If they agree get it in writing and keep it in a file forever. If they don't agree then and only then let them now that you intend to countersue if they take legal action with the the evidence of emails and phone calls for failing to uphold their end of the lease.
As for explaining your situation to new prospective landlords. Condense the story to 3 -4 sentences. No reason to place a lot of blame or complain but basically say you were put into a bad situation and while it could have been handled better, you attempted o make the best of the situation.
Thank You, @Kyle Hipp - I appreciate your input. I would definitely not write the letter I wrote here to any prospective landlords, I just wanted to put it out on here in attempt to better explain the situation. I do agree I did things wrong as well. I had no idea about using certified mail so that is good to know. Thank You, Merry Christmas.
As a landlord, I personally would not rent to anyone who has collections with a prior landlord, for any reason. You will have more housing options if you can resolve the collections. Now that it's in collections, I'd suggest contacting the collections agency, stating that you have $700 to offer if the rest can be written off, and see if they will work with you. They would be happy to get part rather than none, and probably have the authority to write off the rest. If that doesn't work, offer to make small continuing payments. Then you can at least demonstrates to prospective landlords that you are working on paying off the debt. Or you can take the landlord to small claims court to try to get the collections amount reduced. Good luck finding a home closer to work!
Seattle has a strong tenant's union.
You can contact them and see if they have an advisor or advocate who can guide you. They are very familiar with landlord-tenant law in Seattle, not only Washington State. Seattle and King County have some additional laws on the books that may be of benefit to you. However, since the incident happened in the past and this has gone to collections, your time and energy may be better used in taking care of the collections issue, as others have mentioned. Learn from this experience and move on. Good luck!
Marcia Maynard, Fischer Properties | Podcast Guest on Show #83
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