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Scott K Matthews

Scott Matthews’s Answers

139 total

  • Is it legal in WA St to change late fee from $25 after grace period to $5 per day until rent/all late fees are paid in full?

    Landlord/tenant issue. Have one tenant who continuously is late on the rent, like every month, sometimes into the second month. He never pays the entire rental amount and has just been getting "accustomed" to the $25.00 late fee after five days. W...

    Scott’s Answer

    I agree with the previous answers.

    A late fee is generally held to be compensation for the landlord's expenses in dealing with late rent. it is not punishment. When setting your late fee, keep this in mind.

    Another thing to consider is how rentable this property is. If you can easily re-rent, give a 20-day notice and find a new tenant. If it is a difficult property to rent, then, if you are getting paid eventually, dealing with the late payments might be a reasonable cost of doing business. If it takes you 3 months to re-rent, you lost $2400 (because you will probably never collect on a judgment.). How much aggravation is $2,400 worth?

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  • See above

    Am low income disabled, living in a low income disabled complex. New carpet making me sick, per DR. What are my rights, in terms of carpet replacement? Mgmt. very abusive to deal with.

    Scott’s Answer

    Your landlord must make a reasonable accommodation to allow a disabled tenant to use her unit.

    Disability is a pretty broad term under Washington and Federal Law. I would think that a doctor's statement that a specific component of your housing was irritating a specific and verified disability would require an accommodation. However, people sometimes read more into a doctor's statement than is really there. Your doctor may recommend that you not be around the carpet if you feel it is causing a problem, without investigating further. That is not the same thing as offering a medical opinion that your specific disability is aggravated by the carpet in your home, unless some testing or other evaluation is done.

    An important part of the law is the word "reasonable." For example, it might be reasonable for your landlord to do an extra cleaning of a new carpet to remove some of the chemicals left over from manufacturing. It might also be reasonable for your landlord to offer you an apartment that has not had the carpet replaced if one is available. It might be reasonable for them to put you in a hotel for a few days while the new carpet airs out. It might even be reasonable, if they are changing out the carpet throughout the complex, to save one with the carpet unchanged for you or to change what they put down if an alternative could be found that would not be an irritant.

    It is probably not reasonable for them to have to tear up the new carpet in your unit, because of the expense.

    You may have other housing rights if the landlord receives support for supplying low-income housing. If HUD is involved with the property, then a HUD-compliant lease will have been required, and it may give you more rights. Furthermore, HUD has agents who are contracted to keep track of how landlords behave if they are part of a HUD program. You should be able to find out who this is by asking the landlord or by contacting HUD. there may be contact information on your lease. You have the right to ask for a copy of your lease from your landlord if you don't have one.

    You can find more information by going to and searching under "housing discrimination"

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  • Can i avoid paternity?

    My ex boyfriend and I were together four years. After I found out I was pregnant, he became abusive. Hardly any of it was reported though. He can't keep a job but his family is wealthy, funding his bad habits. After I had the baby, a social worker...

    Scott’s Answer

    Paternity needs to be established for the financial and legal future of the child. If you don't respond the court will go ahead without you, listening only to the father.

    This does not mean that the child will live primarily with the father or that you would not have visitation. A paternity action in Washington includes a child support order and a parenting order. I assume the answer is the same in Idaho. You make your case for where the child should live and how he or she should be supported, to the court.

    If the child was born in Idaho and has been in Washington less than six months, Idaho has jurisdiction. You need to immediately hire an Idaho attorney - you cannot do this yourself. If Washington has jurisdiction you can perhaps get the Idaho action dismissed, but the father can then refile in Washington.

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  • Between landlord and tenant, who is responsible for paying the excess cost of the water bill if the bill abnormally high ?

    I am currently renting an apartment; One day we realized that our toilet water was not stopping after we flushed the toilet, to the point where we had to turn the water off after using and flushing it each time. The following morning, the maintena...

    Scott’s Answer

    Properly operating plumbing is generally the landlord's responsibility. If the excess charge is due to his negligence, then he owes you the difference.

    However, if it is you who has the contract with the water company, you still owe the water company and your landlord owes you a reimbursement. The water company can only demand payment from whoever they have a contract with.

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  • How do I get these awful texts to stop from our landlord?

    We rent privately a home that is 2 streets from the owner. We have an agreement that rent is paid half on the 10th and the other half the last day of the month. The last 2 months landlord has text my husband wanting the second half a week earlier....

    Scott’s Answer

    Write him a letter, return receipt requested, restating the terms of your rental agreement regarding the payment schedule, and stating that because of his profane messages you will no longer accept communications other than in writing. Then block his number.

    If you have a multi-month lease, then your agreement is sound and he has to accept rent when agreed.
    If you have a one month agreement which states the payment schedule, then he can change it with 30 days' notice. (See RCW 59.18.140)
    If you have only an oral agreement about the payment schedule, then he must still give you 30 days notice but in an eviction suit over non-payment, it might be difficult to prove that he actually agreed to that schedule, which is unusual.

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  • Can my landlord remove washer and dryer?

    We asked the landlord to remove the washer and dryer before we took possession, to make room for ours. The landlord refused. We later sold our own set. Now 3 months into our tenancy the landlord left notice that they are removing the washer and...

    Scott’s Answer

    Generally, if you signed a contract (your rental agreement) to use property in a certain condition, you have a right to expect the other party to provide the property as shown.

    Furthermore, RCW 59.18.060 (5) says

    The landlord will at all times during the tenancy keep the premises fit for human habitation, and shall in particular: ... 5) Except where the condition is attributable to normal wear and tear, make repairs and arrangements necessary to put and keep the premises in as good condition as it by law or rental agreement should have been, at the commencement of the tenancy;

    Which agrees with the first point about contract law.

    You have shaded the argument by your initial demand that the landlord's washer and dryer be removed. In theory, their refusal negates your demand since you went ahead and accepted the property ... and so on.

    It is hard to answer more directly because there is obviously a lot of back-and-forth that is not part of your description.

    I think they need to provide you with a washer and dryer. If they remove them they need to replace it with a comparable set in a timely fashion. M:ake sure to notify them by a signed letter (not a text, email, or phone call) that you do not agree with the removal of the appliances, you clearly rented a place that had these appliances, and that they will be in breach of their agreement if they don't provide you with satisfactory washer and dryer.

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  • Odds of getting full custody? Are they better since I was granted temporary custody?

    My ex and I had a daughter named Britney. Britney was conceived in Oregon but her mom and I split before she was born, so she was born in California. Britney's mom has another child who is nearly 8. Afterbritney was born her mom got back together ...

    Scott’s Answer

    After this much time, giving you "full custody" essentially requires finding the mother unfit, and justifying removing the child from the only parent she knows. This is one of the most difficult things to do in family law,
    You cannot do this yourself. You need to find and hire an attorney immediately - definitely well before you return to court on the emergency placement.

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  • Can my landlord charge me for repairs and evict me If I don't pay them within the month?

    I filled out a maintenance request for broken blinds and screens with holes in them. These blinds are so brittle. They break constantly and one kept falling out because the catches wouldn't stay closed. The neighborhood kids in the apartment compl...

    Scott’s Answer

    There seem to be some intermixed scenarios here.
    Regarding the rent: If your rent is late, and you receive a 3-day notice to pay or vacate and do not do so within 3 days , you can be evicted. Your landlord has no duty to honor your promise to pay later with a late fee.

    You are generally responsible for damage to a door that you caused. If the neighbors were playing with the cat inside the house, you must replace the screens. If they were doing it on the outside with your permission, you must pay for the screens. If you didn't' know about it and it was outside, then it is the landlord's responsibility.

    The blinds are not quite as easy. If he provides blinds, then they must be serviceable. If they are simply low quality and a cautious tenant would not have broken them, they are certainly your responsibility. If they appeared good but were actually defective when you moved in, they are probably the landlord's responsibility.

    Unless your landlord creates an environment that encourages or at least ignores inappropriate behavior then any sexual harassment is probably a matter for the police. He may have a duty to do some investigation or warn the harassing parties, but based on nothing but your say so, I don't think he has the duty to do more. This issue is a tricky one - relying on both evidence and what a court feels is harassing behavior. In a harassment case, it is important to keep careful records of what happens, find witnesses and get them to write down what they saw, and so forth. It is not an accusation to make lightly but you do not have to put up with it either.

    Generally, how your landlord treats others, such as those writing on walls, is not relevant to your case.

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  • Can a tenant change the locks?

    I just recently did an annual inspection on my rental as the lease term is ending. During this time I noticed that the back glass door lock and front door lock had been changed. I did not give permission nor was I informed this was being done. My ...

    Scott’s Answer

    This action likely violates RCW 59.18.130(4) unless the tenant claims to be the victim of domestic violence. There is a complicated procedure to be followed in DV cases.

    If your rental agreement says no changing locks, then give them a 10-day notice to either replace the old locks, provide you with keys and the old locks, or vacate.

    If the rental agreement is silent you may still prevail with the 10-day based on the statutory violation. However if the lease is month-month you may find it easier to just five a 20-day notice of termination on or before the 10th of the month if the rent is due on the first.

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  • How do I turn around false charges?

    my roommate became expensive waisting electricity, using my things not respecting space. We talked about it, thought we had come to a resolution, I walk in, she's using my computer that doesn't have a firewall, when I asked why she goes into a ra...

    Scott’s Answer

    Your immediate issues are getting your home back and getting any protection orders dismissed.
    You need to consult a landlord/tenant attorney and a criminal attorney before either of these issues get to court.

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