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Elizabeth Rankin Powell

Elizabeth Powell’s Answers

8,678 total


  • What rights do I have when a renter in my shared home won't remove their belongings and won't pay rent.

    I rent out a room in my home, I asked the person to leave and they agreed. But won't give back the key (says they still live there) and won't remove their belongings. I am loosing money every day not being able to re-rent the room. Can I remove t...

    Elizabeth’s Answer

    On these facts, you need to give proper notice that you are terminating the tenancy and then follow through with the judicial process. Landlords in WA cannot engage in self-help. If your tenant refuses to return the keys or get their stuff out, then your recourse is to evict them. Elizabeth Powell

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  • Can a renter sue his landlord for a house not kept up or kept up to standards?

    rented the same house for many years and hardly any repairs have not been made or attempted to be made. he has made a list a few years ago and nothing has been done. we are moving soon and I don't want him to try to say that these damages were ou...

    Elizabeth’s Answer

    When you rent property, typically you pay a deposit, and in WA, when you pay a deposit there must be a walk-through checklist detailing the condition of the property at the time you move in. That serves as a useful reference when you move out to determine if you or your guests have caused damage to the property during your tenancy. Repairs and maintenance are the landlord's obligation - except for damage done by the tenant. If it is something you know you caused, and you can fix it, do that. Replace broken blinds or interior doors with holes in them. If something your landlord should have been maintaining, like the roof, your obligation is to give notice in writing to your landlord of the problem so he knows it needs to be fixed. Elizabeth Powell

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  • Can a landlord raise the rent without a new contract if it was not in his name in the beginning?

    Several years ago I started renting a house from a co-workers father in a month to month rental agreement in his name, A couple of years later his father passed away, he then raised our rent without a new rental agreement in his name taking his f...

    Elizabeth’s Answer

    He can probably do that. Provided you have a month-to-month agreement, your landlord can raise the rent so long as he gives you thirty days notice in advance timed so you can decide whether to leave or stay and pay the new rental rate. When his father passed away, the house became part of the father's probate estate, and then was likely devised to your new landlord. There is nothing unusual about that sort of transfer.
    Elizabeth Powell

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  • Are verbal agreements binding?

    We are currently renting on a 1 year lease that is up in a couple months. About a month ago the landlords verbally agreed to extending the lease another year. No new lease has been signed yet. Now the landlord has decided she would like to move...

    Elizabeth’s Answer

    A text can be a writing. The question is whether your landlord will agree with you that was what she intended; texts can be spoofed, and that is why writings are best when they are on paper and signed by the party to be charged with enforcement. Once your lease is up, either party can terminate the lease by giving the other party 20 days notice properly timed. Your landlord does not need a reason to end the lease, it can be a no-fault notice, so long as it is properly timed and given in writing. Elizabeth Powell

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  • How can I get an order for discovery before other party gets served?

    A safety deposit Box has to get opened to be inspected for the asset it contains before judge make a decision regards the maintenance and division of properties. Other party does not reveal the content of that and may hide it if knows my intentio...

    Elizabeth’s Answer

    The court is going to make a temporary decision regarding maintenance in just a few weeks. If it turns out, during the course of discovery, that the temporary order is not as accurate as it could be (based on what you discover) then go back and ask for another temporary order based on what you find. Spoilation of evidence is not acceptable in any court proceeding. This is not a problem for ex parte, it is a motion to your assigned judge *IF* the other side doesn't produce it willingly. This is not self-help law. Elizabeth Powell

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  • Does the landlord have the right to dictate what stuff she gives you of her deceased tenants who is our mother

    Our mom passed away in washington and police say landlord gets to give us what she wants to of our mom's stuff and only two days to do it please help

    Elizabeth’s Answer

    This is a very tough circumstance and until the end of the week, you are stuck. The Legislature passed a bill to deal with this exact situation. It goes into effect on Friday the 24th. In the meanwhile, you can (and should) find a local lawyer who understands probate and tenancies who can deal with your mother's landlord until this law goes into effect.
    Please accept my condolences for your loss. Elizabeth Powell

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  • What are my rights regarding staying in my house after it sold at auction?

    My house sold at auction after foreclosure. I've been given notice to be out in 20 days. Is there a way to get more time?

    Elizabeth’s Answer

    If you don't get out, the new purchaser has standing to commence an eviction action. They have to serve you with a summons and complaint and give you time to answer the complaint. Provided you answer, there has to be a hearing. At that hearing, the Court is very likely to issue a writ requiring the sheriff to come escort you out. But the writ has to "sit" for three days. Provided that you respond, you will likely have more time. The trade-off is you will ruin your rental history, and that is not a good outcome. Elizabeth Powell

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  • Renting a house on a month to month now. I know I have to give 20 days written notice. What if I move mid month.

    Do I have to pay for the whole month??

    Elizabeth’s Answer

    Yes, the rent for the entire month is due on the day called out in your agreement or established by your conduct over the course of the agreement. While you have to pay for the entire month, if you give notice in writing and on time, you will not be liable for the following month. See RCW 59.18.200.
    Elizabeth Powell

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  • Are windows in rental houses allowed to be sealed shut?

    We recently moved into what seemed to be the perfect rental house - however there have been many frustrations. The landlord did not do a walk-through with us, but had me sign the paperwork stating I had done the walk through. There are three bedro...

    Elizabeth’s Answer

    Be sure you give notice in writing re the deficiencies. Bedrooms must have two exits. A door is an exit, but there also has to be another operable exit such as a window. That window must have 5.2' of openable space. If it does not, please give notice to your landlord and contact the City for an inspection. Elizabeth Powell

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  • Is it legal for a landlord to change locks, not allowing access to belongings upon death of a tenant?

    My uncle passed away. My mother traveled from out of state to be with him before he died, which turned into her staying for weeks trying to deal with things after he died. While she was there the landlord provided keys/access to his apartment, b...

    Elizabeth’s Answer

    A new law was passed this session (it'll be effective the end of this month) that addresses this problem. In the meanwhile best practice would be to open a small estate and get letters testamentary which the landlord has to honor.

    Elizabeth Powell

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