12/03/2010

Prayer & Petition: Part 1 [Big Drama]

I'll be honest. Sometimes I pass over, even avoid, those common verses that even non-Christians have heard a gazillion times. You know, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me," or, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart..." You know. They seem kind of generic to me and I gravitate toward "meatier" and lesser known passages in scripture. I think they have more meaning, somehow, if fewer people are familiar with them.

Sometimes I'm stupid!

You see, there is some major drama swirling around me right now. Allow me to tell you a story. When my husband and I began renting our apartment we were never told anything other than, "Thanks for your money, welcome to your new home. The previous tenant was here for 9 years and we hope to have you for that long!" Then we were told that the owners wanted to make improvements, such as putting washer / dryers in each unit, so would we allow our unit to be walked through and assessed for these various improvements? Then, at some point, we were told nonchalantly, "And, as we told you when you moved in, the building is for sale, so people may be coming through to check it out." Yeah, we were shocked!

So fast-forward to a few weeks ago. A neighbor had to tell us that the building had sold, just after we rearranged our entire apartment to convert the office to a room suitable for Roger and made plans to make this apartment work as our home for 2 or so more years. I began trying to get in touch with our current owners because we need to rent a storage unit and we didn't want to get jerked around. Well, we did get jerked around. Lots of lag in returned phone calls and excuses later, we were told to work with the new management. After getting jerked around some more (no deadlines or promises for any changing of the guard were ever met) the new management took over. I immediately wrote to get info on a storage unit. Needless to say, almost a month later and not a word, despite many promises to get back to me as soon as possible.

That's the least of our problems. For the last few months, the old landlord told residents as their leases came up for renewal that, for their protection, she was putting them on month-to-month leases. Monday evening the new owners put notices on 6 out of 12 tenant's doors telling them that their rent was going up (a minimum of 25% up to nearly 40%), they would now be charged for water/sewer/garbage (right now it's rolled into rent), totaling anywhere from 30-45% increases. That was November 29th, and the notice said that if they wanted to stay in their home they had to sign a lease for the new amount the next day; if not, they had to be out before December 1st... as in, the next day. And now, we saw a notice (posted for everyone to see) on a neighbor's door saying that because he did not sign a lease for the new amount he is expected to vacate immediately and that remodeling will begin on his unit next Monday, December 6th.

Never mind the fact that it's cruel (hello, right before Christmas?) to do that to anyone, but it's entirely illegal. In Washington state, if you are going to choose to not renew a lease, even month-to-month, you have to give a tenant 20 days notice. If you are going to allow them to stay, but they have to sign a lease with increased rent, then you have to give 30 days notice. In the city of Seattle, where we are, there is a special law that if rent is being raised more than 10% (which is true for everyone in our complex that received notices) then you must give 60 days notice. Even to people with a month-to-month lease. So, it's highly illegal what is being done, yet when my husband wrote to the new owner to basically stick up for our neighbors he told my husband, essentially, that it's his prerogative as owner, that he can do what he wants, denying the illegitimacy of his actions, and basically for my husband mind his own business since it doesn't affect us.

Even worse, the new owners are basically sharks. Their website says very clearly that they are out to make as much money as possible doing exactly what they do. It's just two guys, the business guy and the contracting guy, and this is what they do--they buy buildings like ours where the location is great but the building is older, so rents are mid-range. They come in, chase out all of the residents with exorbitant rent increases that they know are unaffordable, "flip" the units, and try to resell. They wear slick suits and have a flashy website, and have private investors backing them.

Yet their office, despite a fancy sounding address, is basically a closet in a cruddy building with a business card taped to the door (one of the affected tenants went to scope it out), correspondence is unprofessional, they are slow already to fix repairs (our controlled access entry broke and no one could enter or exit without being buzzed; in case of a fire in the basement, where the other exit is, people would have been trapped; they took a full week to fix it. And then when they fixed it our keys didn't work; it took over 24 hours to give us keys which they masking taped to the door for anyone to see and take), they clearly don't read e-mails and write replies that address wrong information because they didn't read the e-mail (not to mention lack of coherent writing in their replies), and they flat out don't answer requests, such as mine to simply know the cost and availability of a storage unit. Not to mention the incredibly illegal and heartless cruelty we're seeing our neighbors suffer through, and some of them don't know it's illegal and don't know they are being egregiously sinned against. My husband is trying to carefully inform people of their rights, but it's just making me sick.

EDIT FRIDAY AFTERNOON: I found out this morning that last night at least one resident who did what he should have done--sent his normal rent amount with a note stating that per the Seattle 60 Day Law he considers this his legal 60 day notice of a more than 10% rent increase--got the same letter saying that they are going to begin construction on his apartment Monday so he better be out. Clearly, the new owners refuse to follow legal protocol, and I now know that they KNOW the legalities because when they did this same thing to residents in a friend's building--purchased it, raised rent ridiculously high, and posted notices of the rent increase on people's doors--they at least gave people 60 days to be out, because they knew that was their legal obligation. So sad. Please pray for our neighbors. One lady is on vacation and has no idea this is even going on :(

Ok, end of story. But here's the deal. Our lease isn't up until May 31, but we know we have to move. Not only can we not afford the 350% rent increase, but even if we could we do not want to help these men get more dishonestly earned wealth through us. So... enter much stress. But I will write about that in part 2!

6 comments:

  1. Who do you report these landlords to? The Better Business Bureau? They need to be taken down! Even beyond all the illegal stuff it should be taken into consideration the emotional distress they have caused several households in your complex and many others. I'm sure if enough tenants/prior tenants banded together you could take these guys to court.

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  2. Also, I hope you are documenting everything and that Jason DOESN'T mind his own business. Darin and I have gone through this with Real Property Associates and we warn anyone renting to stay clear of any property managed by that company. They were terrible and neglectful to the point of real harm with regard to building upkeep and personal/identity safety.

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  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  4. Just saw part 2 :) Jason is documenting everything, being very careful to not commit slander, and really going out of his way to keep our neighbors informed and as protected as he can. It's pretty wonderful to see him do that, actually. And our CG already offered to help anyone move that we can.

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  5. That's just awesome and I'm sure your neighbors are/will be mighty thankful that someone was willing to do the legwork while they were trying not to freak out. I heard it was the same people who took over the Hall's place. I mentioned on your FB that something should be put up on the MyBallard as they seem to be buying up places in our neighborhood. Local renters should be aware of these guys.

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  6. I had to delete a comment because there is something going on that is good, and might really help us, but the condition is that we stay quiet. It's good, though!

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