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Tenant's rights under WA state landlord tenant act, rent payment drop box was stolen, paid rent in cash can i sue the landlord

Seattle, WA |

Last july I paid my rent with half cash half money order. When the landlord knocked on my door and asked about my rent i asked if she had checked the box that day cause i was a day or two late and she said not yet but before she checked i told her that when i paid I didn't have time to get it all in money order form so there was about 500 of it was in cash. Then she had the nerve to say "well you shouldnt pay it in cash cause you cant prove it. at that point she went to check it and didnt come back to tell me it was "missing" the nevt day i discovered the 3 day pay or vacate notice. I asked a few other tennants if they have ever had a problerm with rent dissapearing and i seem to be the only one. I cant possibly pay the rent again... what cant i do? Should I sue? I dont want to move just because of an oppertunistic landlord.

Attorney Answers 3


  1. Now you know why you should not be paying rent by cash placed in a unattended box. It will be your burden to prove that the rent was paid. Given that you did pay late and appear to have money problem, the court likely would not believe that there was cash in the envelope, especially since you "seem to be the only one" whose cash disappears.

    If you now have a notice to pay or vacate, you likely should comply or be prepared for the landlord to file an unlawful detainer (eviction) action against you.

    Both you and the landlord would have to comply wiht the procedures contained in your written rental agreement and the Residential Landlord-Tenant Act (Chapter 59.18 RCW). The statutes are here: http://apps.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=59.18 .

    If you are within the City of Seattle's limit, the City does have addition landlord-tenant codes. You should check whether those codes are applicable to you.

    There is an office in the King County courthose that helps tenants with eviction problems. Depending on your facts, the help that the office can provide may be limited.

    Eviction proceedings are generally very fast. Do not delay in seeking help.


  2. UNFORTUNATLY YOU ARE IN A TOUGH POSITION SINCE CASH IS DIFFICULT TO TRACK. MY QUESTION IS TO WHETHER IN THE PAST YOU HAD PAID TH LANDLORD N THE MANNER DESCRIBED. IF YOU DID YOU MAY BE ABLE TO ESTABLISH A PATTERN AND PRACTICE OF PAYING THE RENT. THIS WOULD BE DIFFICULT TO PROVE, HOWEVER IF YOU COULD GET THE LANDLORD TO ADMIT THAT THEY ACTUALLY RECEIVED THE CASH YOU MAY HAVE A CHANCE TO SUPPORT YOUR CLAIM.

    IN ANY EVENT, FOR FUTURE RENTAL TRANSACTIONS MAKE SURE YOU ALWAYS GET A RECEIPT OF PAY WITH CHECK.

    I AM SORRY FOR YOUR DILEMA.

    EVAN OSHAN
    LAW OFFICE OF EVAN M. OSHAN
    P.O. BOX 861
    MERCER ISLAND, WA 98040
    310 906 7137


  3. Should you sue? For what?

    I am not licesed to practice law in WA, so this is based on general principles of law. First of all I would love to know how you were able to get half the money in a money order and half in cash when you could have given the people who created the money order the cash and gotten a money order for the whole amount?

    Anyhow, you can't prove that you paid. Thats what is comes down to. Why on earth you would stick $500 cash into a box that no telling who had access to is beyond me.

    Unless you can demonstrate that you gave the landlord all the money, you are in default.

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