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The 60 percent rent increase Kristin Knudson received notice of in late January came as a surprise, but she was open-minded about accepting the sudden change.

Yes: $1,155 a month was a lot more than the $710 she’d been paying for her Capitol Hill studio. She wasn’t ready to move before the new rate would go into effect on April 1, though.

“I was almost willing to say, ‘Oh, bummer. I got caught up in some changes around here and this increase,’ ” Knudson said. “I thought I might stay.”

Most of her neighbors couldn’t handle the rent jump, though, and left as fast as they could. Then, almost immediately after her neighbors moved out, Knudson says, the building’s new owner didn’t lose any time gutting vacated units and the entire property.

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Much sooner than she anticipated, workers were hurling kitchen sinks out the windows of the building’s upper floors and filling the interior with dust as they upgraded hallways, Knudson said.

She contacted the local offices of the Tenants Union of Washington State and became aware of a few legal problems with what the company was doing to her, including providing too little notice time for the rent increase, and cleverly circumventing city laws that would have made the company responsible for half the relocation expenses of low-income tenants.

“I could have gone around and around with [the company] on it, but I gave up the fight because I just had to leave,” Knudson said. “There was so much dust around, it was giving me lung problems.”

By April, Knudson says, she was “turfed out” and reluctantly moved into her boyfriend’s house in Bellevue. With the exception of the 42-mile round trip she now makes to work as an in-home registered nurse in Seattle, Knudson said she’s happy living on the Eastside.

“I’m pleasantly surprised. I wouldn’t have chosen to come on my own, but I love being surrounded by all the nature over here,” Knudson said.

She said the relocation also moved her eight-year relationship with her boyfriend to the next level, and that “We should have done this a long time ago.” Because her boyfriend insists on taking care of most of their housing expenses, she’s also spending much less money per month.

“I felt like I walked into something that was unjust, but then the move kind of benefitted me,” Knudson said. “I’m OK, even after something really bad happened that I had no control over.”

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