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Matthew F. Davis

Matthew Davis’s Answers

61 total


  • After serving a 20-day Notice to Terminate Tenancy, How long before we can have them removed after the move out date has passed?

    Please Help. Our tenants will be served a 20-day Notice to Terminate Tenancy on Wed. April 24th 2013. They currently are on a month to month basis with rent due on the 15th of each month. (They recently paid past rents due after we served them wit...

    Matthew’s Answer

    Assuming that the existing tenants are occupying the property on a month to month tenancy an are paying rent, you can terminate with a 20-day notice. One given now would be effective at the end of May. You then have to wait and see if they leave. If they do not leave by June 1, you would then need to evict them. The most efficient way to do that would be an unlawful detainer action. Since they would be unlawfully in possession of the premises at that point, it should be a fairly quick and easy process, by which I mean out sometime in June. With any luck, they will leave when they get a notice. You cannot just change the locks and get rid of their stuff.

    In cases like this, I recommend that people either find a land-lord tenant attorney or use an eviction service. I have seen eviction services handle these very efficiently and for less than many attorneys would charge. They still need an attorney, but evictions are all that they do.

    Not really legal advice, but many of our clients faced with your situation just buy the tenants out. You might consider giving them a notice terminating the tenancy at the end of May and telling them that you will give them $500 if they are out by the end of April. Paying people to leave does not really make sense, but it would be cheaper and less aggravation than evicting them. If you do try this approach, make sure that our offer is conditioned on them leaving the place in good order and terminating their tenancy on April 30.

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  • Removing a property title lien

    property has about 10k left on lien and lien holder is deceased , we have tried to contact his children and all certified letters have been returned . It has been about 7 years since he has passed. I am thinking about selling the property , is the...

    Matthew’s Answer

    By lien I assume that you mean a mortgage or deed of trust for a loan. Based on your description, it sounds like more than six years have passed without a payment on the loan. In that case, a Washington statute provides a way for you to eliminate the deed of trust from your title with a quiet title action.

    "The record owner of real estate may maintain an action to quiet title against the lien of a mortgage or deed of trust on the real estate where an action to foreclose such mortgage or deed of trust would be barred by the statute of limitations, and, upon proof sufficient to satisfy the court, may have judgment quieting title against such a lien."

    RCW 7.28.300. In some cases, a title company may remove the deed of trust as a special exception without a quiet title action, but you don't want to find that out after an offer is made.

    I suggest that you start by contacting a title insurance company and asking what it would require to insure around the old encumbrance. If you cannot get the title company to insure around it, you will need to hire a real estate attorney to do the quiet title action. That should be a relatively small matter, but there are many procedures to be followed.

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  • Are commercial landlords only required to give 30 days to vacate a premises?

    The building where I lease my clinic for my business has just been sold and the new owners are tearing it down to build condos. They gave us 30 days to vacate the premises. Is there any assistance for relocating a business, and do they really on...

    Matthew’s Answer

    If you have a commercial lease on a month to month contract, the landlord has to give you 20 days notice, and the notice is effective at the end of the month at the end of the 20-day period. For example, if the landlord gave you notice on April 9, it could terminate the lease at the end of April. Now that it is April 13, notice given today would not run out until May 3, so the notice would terminate the lease at the end of May.

    A month to month lease allows either party to terminate on short notice. You don't have any legal right to stay longer, but it is common for tenants in your position to negotiate a longer time. If they are not going to start tearing the building down right away, they would be better off getting rent than not. At the same time, if demolition is planned, you really don't have any legal leverage.

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  • An interview for my project

    Hello, could you please help me with the project for business law class? there are only seven questions about the experience of being a lawyer. this interview will not take you more than ten minutes. please help me :)

    Matthew’s Answer

    • Selected as best answer

    Attorney’s Name: Matthew Davis
    Firm Name & Location: Demco Law Firm, P.S., Seattle, WA
    Undergraduate Degree, and School: University of Kansas, BA French
    Law School: University of Kansas, JD 1991
    What things did you most enjoy about law school? Learning how the system works. Sort of a peek behind the curtain.
    What things did you NOT enjoy about law school? People who took themselves and law school too seriously.
    1. What kind of business are you in, and what do you do in that business? Private practice focused on real estate. Mostly real estate appeals and mediation these days.
    2. Was your legal education helpful in getting your employment? Necessary, but the actual substance of law school has never helped.
    3. Once you got the job, has your legal education helpful to you, in performing your job? Only in understanding how to approach things. The actual law that I learned has not.
    4. Did you practice law before you went into business? If so, why did you decide to change? Are you happier in business than in law practice? I was in business before I practiced law. I thought that the law would offer a challenging and enjoyable career. It is challenging but not always enjoyable.
    5. How long will it takes to stay in the court normally when you are on the case? Not sure what you mean. From filing a lawsuit to trial is around 18 months on average. We don't get to go to court and argue that much anymore, and when we do, we often have to wait a couple of hours to argue for 10 minutes. Sometimes we get to share an hour. Trials vary from a day to several weeks. Most cases are concluded without any court involvement.
    6. Did you feel nervous when first time stay in front of the jury ? No, but I am unusual in that respect.

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  • About to go into foreclosure-co-borrower flew the coop 5 years ago-stopped paying- 1yr delinquent now want to save house.

    Have fanny mae(credit score in the 800's) recently borrowed from fam last 5 years. tried several times for modification also to get CO off loan. Lender would not work with her. Several consultations with home mort. couselors FM wouldn't grant fore...

    Matthew’s Answer

    It sounds like you have done the right things, but it is not entirely clear when you last tried to get a loan modification. If it has been more than six months, you might find that the attitude has changed. This is a very fast moving area. If it has been a while, you might consider re-applying. I have clients who got the runaround forever, but who got loan modifications in weeks recently. Same banks, just different rules.

    The mediation process is proving somewhat successful. The lenders are required to participate in good faith, and they will make a deal.

    Overall, I have found that groups like the Home Foreclosure Legal Aid Project that Jacob mentioned are as successful as attorneys. Lenders are not generally required to do loan modifications, and attorneys don't really have more leverage than a good housing counselor.

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  • Does the neighbor have any right to tell us we can't park on the street?

    Their house is across the street, fenced in. We have always parked across the street along the fence as to not block traffic from coming through our street. He's threatening to call the towing company and have my cars, company's cars, etc towed fo...

    Matthew’s Answer

    No, your neighbor cannot tell you not to park in the street as long as it is a legal parking spot.

    At the same time, people can get mighty possessive about the street in front of their homes. It is best to seek some kind of agreement. As for towing, Washington has a statute that generally would stop any towing company from moving your vehicle.

    Legally, you have a right to park there if it is a legal parking spot. But your legal rights will be beside the point if someone gets hurt. This is one of those many situations where the best advice may come from mom instead of an attorney.

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  • What type of real estate sales contract is best in a FSBO transaction for a vacant lot, where the seller carries a contract?

    The lot is zoned residential & has no structures on it. I don't want to receive a lump sum for the lot up front,. Instead I hope to minimize my tax burden by receiving monthly payments for 5 - 7 yrs., & then a balloon payment at the end. The bu...

    Matthew’s Answer

    • Selected as best answer

    My advice in this situation has changed recently. If you are simply selling your own real estate for cash, then most of the commonly available forms are probably going to do the job, as long as they are specific to Washington State. We do things differently from other states, so a generic form would not work. Real estate agents mostly use the Northwest Multiple Listing Service Vacant Land Purchase and Sale Agreement form in your situation. It is NWMLS Form 25. You probably could locate a copy to make sure that whatever form you use is sufficient with a Google search for NWMLS vacant land purchase and sale agreement. The forms are protected by copyright, so actually using one would be a problem.

    The bigger issue is that you are going to carry a contract, which means financing the transaction. The recent Dodd-Frank Act that regulates mortgage lenders also has had an effect on seller financing. The State Department of Financial Institutions used to treat anyone who financed five or fewer sales per year as exempt, but it no longer can. As a result, any seller offering financing had to give out a DFI Disclosure Statement, and get an exemption from the Consumer Loan Act from DFI. Links are below.

    If you do not get an exemption from DFI, you could have problems with the buyer later on. I really don't think that the risk is worth it. For all these reasons, I really think that any seller who wants to offer financing needs to use a real estate attorney. It should cost less than a real estate broker, and you will get a good purchase and sale agreement as well.

    This is new territory for all of us, but I doubt that you want to be the test case. You should be able to get a flat rate from a real estate attorney so that you will know your cost.

    As far as the financing itself if concerned, you have a choice between a real estate contract and a deed of trust. An attorney would help you decide. With a real estate contract, you have a very short time to take action if the buyer stops paying, but your remedy is to take the property back. With a deed of trust, you would have to foreclosure, which you could do a couple of ways. This choice is often influenced by the down payment of the buyer. If the buyer is paying little or nothing down, I usually recommend a real estate contract. With a substantial down payment, I usually would prefer a deed of trust.

    In short, you have lots of reasons why you need to see a real estate attorney. I suggest that you try to agree to a flat fee so that you know what it will cost.

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  • My ex husband owns the home. It is paid in full. I hold a promissary note from him in excess of the amount of the home.

    The promissary note is backed by a court judgement of the home. What can I do? What type of forclosure would be best and how does it work? Can I secure a judgement on the difference of the house and the promissary note. Thank you.

    Matthew’s Answer

    There is a lot of information here, and only some of it will pertain to your situation. I suggest that you identify the portions that are relevant and ignore the rest.

    The first question is whether note is due or not. If the note has come due and was not paid, then you can enforce it. If it has not yet come due, you have to wait. I assume that the note is due.

    The answer to your question depends on whether your note is secured by a recorded deed of trust against the property. That typically would be the case, but in too many cases the parties never get around to doing the paperwork. If you have a deed of trust, you could verify that it was recorded by searching the county recorder's website. For Whatcom County, that would be here: http://www.whatcomcounty.us/paris/.

    If you have a deed of trust, but it was not recorded, you could still record it today, but it would be subject to anything that was recorded against the property beforehand.

    Assuming that you have a recorded deed of trust, you have two options to foreclose. Both have benefits and disadvantages.

    First, you could do a nonjudicial foreclosure. This process can be completed in about six months. It ends with a foreclosure auction at which you can credit bid the amount owing. However, you get what you get from the sale (the property or money), and you cannot pursue any unpaid balance on the note. The vast majority of foreclosures use this process. If you want to take this route, you could hire an attorney or a foreclosure trustee to do the foreclosure. Northwest Trustee Services is by far the largest Washington foreclosure trustee, but not necessarily the best. You probably won't see much difference between a foreclosure trustee and an attorney. It will cost you several thousand dollars.

    The other option is called a judicial foreclosure. In a judicial foreclosure, you have to sue your ex on the note and get a judgment. The judgment includes a decree of foreclosure, which directs the sheriff to auction the property. Unless your ex disputes the amount owing, you probably could do a judicial foreclosure for the same cost and in the same time as a nonjudicial. There are two differences. First, in a judicial foreclosure, you can enforce the judgment for any amount owing after the auction. However, a sheriff's sale of the property is subject to a one-year right of redemption, meaning that your ex could pay the buyer back with interest and get the house. This tends to discourage bidders. In addition, if the property is your ex's homestead, he gets to live in the property for free during the redemption period. So in all probability, the right to purse the unpaid balance would mean that you could not sell the property for a year, during which he would get to live there.

    I have simplified parts of the process, but this gives you the general picture. Most lenders opt for a nonjudicial foreclosure because the sale is final, and most people who default on a loan are to good prospects to have money later.

    Your best bet would be to start with someone who could do a judicial or a nonjudicial foreclosure, and who can advise you which makes more sense. Northwest Trustee is part of a law firm, and I believe that it could. An attorney who does foreclosures could as well.

    Finally, if you have a note, but not a deed of trust, then you would be an unsecured creditor. That is the worst of all possible worlds. If that is the case, start by going back to the dissolution decree and see if you were entitled to a deed of trust, and then get one. The court should order your ex to sign one. If you are truly an unsecured creditor, then you have to sue on the note and get a judgment. The judgment is automatically a lien against all real property your ex owns in the county, and you can then execute on the judgment in a process like a judicial foreclosure

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  • In Washington State (Seattle), if I cosigned on a lease that is expired, can the landlord still come after me for damages?

    10 years ago as a 19 year old living with my father I had to cosign on the lease for a house rental. I moved out 5+ years ago and the rental for yeas has been month to month that my father has paid. If my father defaults on rent or caused damage...

    Matthew’s Answer

    Probably not. A guarantor or a co-tenant is liable under the lease, and usually for any extensions or amendments of the lease. However, the lease was not extended, but expired. Unless the documents that you signed dealt with post-termination issues, the landlord would have a very hard time holding you responsible. You have not occupied the lease under the month to month tenancy.

    The only caveat is that the original lease could have contained terms stating that you would remain liable if the lease converted to month to month. If so, that might be ab enfroceable provision.

    An ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure, it would make sense to send the landlord notice that you moved out years ago, do not consider yourself a tenant, and to the extent that you are, give 30 days notice to terminate.

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  • What are my rights as a tenant if I am being served a 10 day notice to remove pet from property of apartment complex?

    If 10 day notice is being served, what is required to happen by law with complex serving the papers and are there any loop holes? What can they do if I refuse to remove my dog from the property ? I found my lease never contained a pet agreement, ...

    Matthew’s Answer

    Let's start with your lease. If it contains a no pet clause, then you can be given a 10-day notice to remove the pet or fact eviction. If it does not contain a no pet clause, the next question would be whether a landlord rule prevents them. In that case, it would probably matter which came first, the rule or the pet. It would be very hard for a landlord to make a new rule prohibiting pets and then try to apply it to pets that were already there.

    The altercations may be a different story. The fact that a pet is involved in or the cause of an altercation is not really a pet issue. It is an altercation issue. A tenant who causes altercations can be given a 10-day notice, but the notice would be to stop the altercations. Based on what you say , it would hard for a landlord to give a notice to remove the pet on the basis of altercations unless it was protracted.

    Not sure what you mean by the addendum letter. An Addendum is a modification to the lease that both landlord and tenant sign. If signed only by the landlord, it is a notice, but does not change the lease. You probably don't want to sign anything.

    I suggest the following steps:

    1. Gather your lease and all other documents about your use of the property (rules, lease, letters, addenda, notices). Look for anything about pets. Figure out what the pet rules were when you signed the lease and what they are today. Also look for any ads that you responded to.

    2. Put together a summary of all notice that the landlord had about your pet. Did you tell them when you signed your lease or ask about dogs? If you did, then try to find some written evidence.

    3. Come up with a solution that will eliminate future problems. Maybe it is that your pet will be on leash whenever out of your apartment. Think of the altercations and what could have avoided them.

    Once you have this, prepare a proposal to the landlord. Explain that the pet was there before the rule (if it was), give the good history of your pet at the premises (the longer the better), and offer an agreement about how you will handle your pet. Be prepared to pay a pet deposit (cheaper than an attorney and refundable).

    Then I would meet with the landlord and explain why you think the lease lets you have a dog (if it does), and explain that you don't want it to be a problem. Make your proposal and see what you get. If the landlord agreement, make sure that you can keep your end of the bargain.

    If the landlord won't agree, then you may face an eviction. In an eviction, the landlord has to service you with a notice to comply or vacate. If you don't comply, the landlord can start an unlawful detainer lawsuit, which moves very quickly. The only question in an unlawful detainer lawsuit is the right to possession. If you think that the lease allows you to keep the dog, then you are entitled to possession. You would need to appear at any hearings with copies of all the documents you gathered and be prepared to explain why you can have a dog. Do not stop paying rent.

    You could get an attorney to help you or do this yourself. Some attorneys do only landlord-tenant issues, and one of them would be a good choice. It sounds like there may be more to the story than I can see, but this might give you a good framework.

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