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Thread: Anyone familiar with landlord/tenant/property laws?

  1. #1
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    Anyone familiar with landlord/tenant/property laws?

    My family and I live in the state of WA.

    We're currently renting a condo from a private owner; however, the condo is among a community of condominium complexes, and is overseen by a real estate team, which has an "Association Board" directly responsible for overseeing the complex rules and bylaws.

    Earlier this month, we had received a notice on our door from the condo complex. The notice was a "10 Day Pay" notice, in reference to overdue association dues that have gone unpaid by the owner of our condo.

    Each private owner is required to pay monthly association dues as a part of their agreement. We have recently come to discover that our landlord has not paid his association dues in several months -- over half a year, to be more accurate.

    The notice states that if we do not pay the total amount by today, that we'll be losing our electricity and water service to our unit.

    It states "In accordance with the statutes and the RCW's of the State of Washington, Association-provided utilities, including but not limited to, electricity and water, will be disconnected for nonpayment of association fees." However, it fails to address which statute grants them this authority; and furthermore, the association does not pay for our electricity -- each unit is responsible for paying our electric bill through the local power company. Additionally, I am not sure they are legally justified in disconnecting our utilities for nonpayment, when we're not the ones responsible for covering the fees. As a result, we'll simply be collateral damage due to our residence here.

    Lastly, even if I were able to pay these dues, I would have have been able to pay them in the time frame that was granted, considering their office was closed on both the 26th (for Thanksgiving) and today; so the notice is flawed in their timing. The main office did not even return my phone call from Wednesday morning (the 25th) to discuss options.

    The positive side of this is that we're moving at the end of December, and we've already pre-paid last month's rent, and we do not have the funds to cover this. Even if we did, we would certainly not be reimbursed by our landlord, considering his inconsistency with the payments.

    Does anyone know what legal grounds I may have as a defense?

    Most attorneys are out of the office for the holiday weekend.

    Thanks in advance!

    Aaron

  2. #2
    Regular Member solus's Avatar
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    you are stuck between the rock and hard spot...

    my experience with HOAs and associated state statutes has not been of a positive nature and tho i am fairly certain they can not legally turn off utilities w/o court order and as part of an eviction.

    that said, i have seen HOAs pull the type of antics with tenants, who pay the arrears, without contacting the owner of the unit. btw is the HOA the owner of the unit?

    finally, check in kent to see if there is a housing legal whatever to seek counsel from...

    best of luck...

    ipse

    ps: make absolutely sure any communication with the HOA is documented as there have been cases where the tenant has gotten a 'black mark' on their credit for 'failure' to pay.
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    It would *seem* that I would have grounds to fight this on, for the reasons I listed in my original post.

    One reason, being it is not my responsibility to pay the dues, so therefore, having my family suffer the consequences of delinquent dues isn't justifiable.

    The second reason being is that "Association-provided utilities" are water and garbage services; not electricity. In the notice, it says that electricity will be shut off. I pay my power bill through the power company.

    The third reason is that the notice gives us until the end of business hours, today, to pay; however, the main office was closed both yesterday, and today -- and they didn't return my call from Wednesday.

    The HOA is a board of directors who represent Targa Real Estate. The owner of our unit (our individual unit) is the one responsible for paying the dues, but he hasn't. We're just renting from him.

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    Don't know why the OP is getting so worked up over this. Provide the notice to the condo owner, its his problem.

    There is little the renter can do until the power/utilities are actually interrupted anyway.

    If you pay the fees, I doubt a court would see this as anything other than a gift.

    You have no standing to argue with the housing assoc.

    I know that many housing assoc. just sends out these letters and do nothing afterwards.

    I would simply prepare for the loss in power and water. Power is an easy fix via an inverter ...

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    Regular Member Grim_Night's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidmcbeth View Post
    Don't know why the OP is getting so worked up over this. /snip
    Because what the HOA is doing is considered a crime. It's called extortion. Threatening an illegal act in order to get money. The HOA has no authority at all to disconnect the utilities to the OPs home. If they have the capability to do so and in fact do so, they are committing a crime because it is actually illegal in the state of Washington for a landlord to disconnect the utilities to a residence. Even if the landlord had a valid reason for evicting a tenant, it is still illegal to do so. Only the court can force a tenant from their home.
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    Regular Member OC for ME's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aaron1124 View Post
    My family and I live in the state of WA. ...

    Thanks in advance!

    Aaron
    Simplicity itself...the owner does not pay so the HOA will extort you you pay...because you are there. Do not pay. If the lights go out, call the cops. Why the cops? Is it a crime to disable fire detection equipment in the Great State of WA? In Missouri, a "smoke detector" has a battery as a back-up in the event 120VAC household power is lost. The below is not a endorsement of the website or vendor, simply providing information on the requirements for "smoke detectors" in Missouri.

    http://www.zoro.com/romex-nonmetalli...A&gclsrc=aw.ds
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    Quote Originally Posted by OC for ME View Post
    Simplicity itself...the owner does not pay so the HOA will extort you you pay...because you are there. Do not pay. If the lights go out, call the cops. Why the cops? Is it a crime to disable fire detection equipment in the Great State of WA? In Missouri, a "smoke detector" has a battery as a back-up in the event 120VAC household power is lost. The below is not a endorsement of the website or vendor, simply providing information on the requirements for "smoke detectors" in Missouri.

    http://www.zoro.com/romex-nonmetalli...A&gclsrc=aw.ds
    The OP did not specifically state that the letter was addressed to them ... only that they got a letter. I assume it was addressed to the owner. Perhaps this is where some confusion is.

    I don't see calling the cops regarding the smoke detectors...

    This would be a civil matter IMO ... the OP is just going to have to wait until the lights go out. Then deal with his LANDLORD, not the HOA.

  9. #9
    Regular Member Grim_Night's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidmcbeth View Post
    The OP did not specifically state that the letter was addressed to them ... only that they got a letter. I assume it was addressed to the owner. Perhaps this is where some confusion is.

    I don't see calling the cops regarding the smoke detectors...

    This would be a civil matter IMO ... the OP is just going to have to wait until the lights go out. Then deal with his LANDLORD, not the HOA.
    If the HOA disconnects any utilities at all, they violate the law. Period. ONLY the utility company may terminate utility service and only for nonpayment or at the request of the end user. Any attempt to disconnect the utility service by anyone other then the utility company could at the very least be considered "tampering". The utility company is not authorized to terminate utility service at the request of anyone other then the end user or the utility company itself.

    http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=80.28.240

    Recovery of damages by utility company for tampering, unauthorized connections, diversion of services.

    (d) Tamper with any property owned or used by the utility to provide utility services; or
    http://apps.leg.wa.gov/wac/default.a...te=480-100-128

    WAC 480-100-128 Disconnection of service.

    http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=59.18.300

    It shall be unlawful for a landlord to intentionally cause termination of any of his or her tenant's utility services, including water, heat, electricity, or gas, except for an interruption of utility services for a reasonable time in order to make necessary repairs.
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  10. #10
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    As I said, the OP should be dealing with his landlord. Funny how that law is written. http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=59.18.300


    RCW 59.18.300
    Termination of tenant's utility services—Tenant causing loss of landlord provided utility services.
    It shall be unlawful for a landlord to intentionally cause termination of any of his or her tenant's utility services, including water, heat, electricity, or gas, except for an interruption of utility services for a reasonable time in order to make necessary repairs. Any landlord who violates this section may be liable to such tenant for his or her actual damages sustained by him or her, and up to one hundred dollars for each day or part thereof the tenant is thereby deprived of any utility service, and the prevailing party may recover his or her costs of suit or arbitration and a reasonable attorney's fee. It shall be unlawful for a tenant to intentionally cause the loss of utility services provided by the landlord, including water, heat, electricity, or gas, excepting as resulting from the normal occupancy of the premises.


    I think that the refusal to pay the HOA fees would be seen as the LL intentionally causing the issue of disconnecting service even if another party actually does the disconnecting.

    All this "may" in the statue stinks IMO ... as far as recovering damages and fees and whatnots.

    Its a civil matter w/o a cause of action until the services are indeed disconnected.

    The other possible violations? ... wasting time on the other non-civil matters under .300 section that will not make the OP whole? Up to OP if he wants to pursue this .. I rarely do as it, even if found in my favor, will not really mean much to my pocketbook...and civil suits are all about $$$$.

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