Q: Last month, I signed a lease on an Everett apartment. Since then, the apartment manager has received several noise complaints about me from other tenants, although I never make...

Share story


Q:

Last month, I signed a lease on an Everett apartment. Since then, the apartment manager has received several noise complaints about me from other tenants, although I never make any noise loud enough to disturb anyone. The complaints are coming from tenants who (I think) are friends of my ex-boyfriend’s current girlfriend.

She also lives in this building, and he’s moved in with her. I have a restraining order against him.

The manager first told me I have to move to another building (which I can’t afford to do) and now has told me I have to leave later this month. My rent is late, but the landlord said when I moved in that she’d be OK with this. Do I really have to move out?

Most Read Stories

Unlimited Digital Access. $1 for 4 weeks.



A:

You might, but only if you’ve violated the conditions of your lease. Even then, your apartment manager can’t simply order you to leave, says Seattle attorney John Rongerude. She has to formally evict you, and that means following state law, which mandates how evictions must be handled.

If her beef with you is noise, then, “No eviction can occur until the tenant is given a 10-day notice to comply with the noise rules,” Rongerude says. (Suggestion: Review your lease to see whether it has a noise rule.) If you get that written notice and then violate it, the eviction begins. However, Rongerude says, “Evictions based on noise complaints are hard to prove in court.” Usually there must be witnesses willing to testify. In your case, since you believe false allegations are being leveled, you can protect yourself by giving the manager your side of the story, in writing. Then, if push comes to shove, at least there will be a written record of what you say is the truth of the matter.

Your next issue is the late rent. Rongerude says you’d be in a stronger position if you had your manager’s written confirmation that tardiness is OK. In any case, your manager cannot evict you for non-payment without first giving you a three-day written notice to pay or vacate. If you pay, you stay. Since you agreed you’d pay on a certain date, albeit late, Rongerude predicts your landlord probably will wait to “see if payment is made as promised. The short wait is cheaper than contacting a lawyer.”

Finally, there’s the issue of the ex-boyfriend. If he’s moved in close to you, he may be in violation of the terms and conditions of the restraining order. “The former boyfriend has the obligation to comply with those terms, and if he is in violation, you should call the police. Violating a protection order is a crime,” Rongerude says.

Those are the legal answers to your dilemma. The practical one may be to accept your apartment manager’s offer to move you to another building. Yes, it’s an expense and a huge hassle, but it may be better than trying to buck a building full of folks who are hostile to you.



Q:

The 75 owners of condo units in my building each have been assessed $38,000 to fix a water problem. What happens if some of the units go into foreclosure because their owners can’t pay it? Are other owners responsible to pick up this debt if the units do not sell?


A:

Your condo association should run this situation past a bankruptcy attorney or a debt-collection attorney to see what rights it has to collect this assessment before a unit goes into foreclosure. There are some, and they’re complicated, says Amelia Adair, an attorney with the Kirkland firm Leahy.ps. “The sooner you can understand what your rights are and what options you have, the better your chances are that you can come to a good solution.”

But let’s assume those avenues have been completely explored and there’s still an outstanding amount that hasn’t been paid. What happens then? The sum becomes “a common expense and is therefore collectable from all the unit owners,” Adair says, adding, “anyone who buys the unit through foreclosure is not responsible for this special expense.”


Q:

The house I just bought came with all the appliances. When it came time to move in, I immediately noticed that the washer and dryer, which were expensive and almost new, had been replaced by the sellers with an older set. They work, but they’re not what I thought I was getting. Is there anything I can do about this?


A:

Darryl Lewis, co-owner of John L. Scott’s Edmonds real-estate office, explains that “appliances,” be they a washer, dryer, fireplace insert or even mounted surround-sound speakers, are considered personal property. This means they’re not part of the house itself and not automatically included in the sale.

However, it’s common that sellers include at least some of them, Lewis says, and the ones that are staying are checked off as such on the purchase and sale agreement. Although model or serial numbers aren’t written onto that agreement, Lewis says the industry standard is, “The appliances that are there when you’re looking at the home are supposed to be the ones there” after the home becomes yours. “The key is, do you have proof that the appliances were there?” Photos are ideal for this, and Lewis suggests home shoppers take them.

Although your seller is technically in agreement with the sales contract, in point of fact the appliances you got may be worth less — which means you didn’t get what you paid for.

How to handle it? Lewis suggests you bring this up with the seller, verbally or in writing, and request a resolution. If you were represented by a real-estate agent, by all means that person should be made aware of the situation and asked to help. Should the seller decline to make good, your agent may be a valuable help to you in small claims court. That ultimately could bring you successful resolution.

Home Forum answers readers’ real-estate questions. Send questions to Home Forum, Seattle Times, P.O. Box 1845, Seattle, WA 98111, or call 206-464-8510 to leave a question on a recorded line. The e-mail address is erhodes@seattletimes.com. Sorry, no personal replies.