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Jerry A Stimmel
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Jerry Stimmel’s Answers

392 total


  • Is it legal to misspell someone's name on legal forms

    Eviction notice served to only one party and name is misspelled. There are at least 3 members of the family that could be served a copy of notices, but the owner has only served one person and continues to misspell the name.

    Jerry’s Answer

    I agree with Ms. Smith. A misspelling is not likely to be important. But the number of notices could be material. You say that 3 family members are involved, but it's not clear from your inquiry whether they are lessees in the rental agreement. A landlord does not have to serve young children living with their parents, for example, but should serve enough copies for all adults known to be living there. The landlord does not have to serve each adult independently, but can serve all copies on any adult residing in the property. In my experience not all courts equally strict about serving enough copies of pre-eviction notices, but in most situations the landlord needs to serve enough copies for everybody.

    Your use of the term "eviction notice" is ambiguous. Sometimes that term is used to describe a pre-eviction notice (3-day notice to pay or vacate, or 10-day notice to cure a default, or a 20-day notice to terminate a month-to-month tenancy, for example). The term "eviction notice" might also mean a summons and complaint for unlawful detainer, which starts the eviction case even if it is unfiled in court.

    It is possible that failure to serve enough copies could be a defense to an eviction case, but winning an eviction case is not much of a victory for a tenant whose future tenant screening reports will be affected. So, even if you might have a defense, you are much better off by complying with the notice. If the "eviction notice" is a summons, it is absolutely crucial to abide by the deadline for answering. For a more complete answer, review of the transaction documents and course of performance would be needed.

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  • The lease is month-to-month so what do I need to do to have the tenant moved out?

    I have a tenant filed for bankruptcy and I just received the notice in the mail over the weekend.

    Jerry’s Answer

    I don't practice bankruptcy law, so maybe somebody on this site will have a better idea, but here's what I think: The fact that you were on the mailing list as one of the tenant's creditors signifies that the tenant owes you some money, or is about to owe you some money, and may not be able to pay the debt. If you give the tenant a termination notice now I think you would be violating the bankruptcy court's automatic stay order. The tenant's mere filing of the bankruptcy petition requires all all enforcement actions against the tenant to be stayed (i.e., they must stop). Violation of the automatic stay by you can result in serious criminal liability and financial penalties against you. Bankruptcy courts routinely receive, and grant, requests from landlords to lift the stay so that eviction proceedings can continue, but you must file a motion in the bankruptcy court for relief from stay and you can't proceed against the tenant unless the bankruptcy court says OK. It's an annoyance which drains your time and money, but don't try to shortcut the process.

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  • Can a landlord break a lease early in Washington State if I have not violated the conditions of the lease

    I'm renting a room in Washington State I still have 4 months left of a 6 month lease and my landlady is trying to evict me in 2 months because she wants to sell the house. I have not broken any of the conditions of the lease. Can she do that and ...

    Jerry’s Answer

    A good look at the lease and any other records of the transaction would be necessary for a reliable answer, but if your lease is unambiguous about the 6-month duration you probably have enough protection to stay put. The landlord cannot legally evict you without getting a court order at considerable expense and time, and she would have trouble succeeding if you have a lease. She cannot legally lock you out, move your belongings, or cut off your utilities. Some landlords try those things, however. Sometimes a landlord who really needs the tenant to move but cannot evict will offer the tenant a financial incentive, and that opportunity may be available. Where a landlord is renting out rooms in a house, there is a high probability that the tenancy violates local building codes, that the documentation is too casual, and that the landlord is not careful about precise requirements of eviction law. Keep good records and good notes.

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  • Is lease void due to landlord or agent not signing

    I am moving out of my apartment legally but I went and picked up a copy of lease and in 3 spots owner nor agent signed is it still a valid lease what I have read says it is void

    Jerry’s Answer

    Lack of a signature doesn't make it void, but it is enforceable only as a month-to-month tenancy. Even a lease which is only a month-to-month tenancy can nevertheless be a contract, and a contract lacking a signature can sometimes still be effective. Parties' emails, correspondence, phone calls, and conduct can sometimes substitute for signatures and create a contract. You say the landlord's signature is missing in three spots. That seems to indicate that the landlord signed somewhere, but not everywhere. If that's the situation, it's not void, but there may be issues about the effectiveness of particular clauses. We would need to know more about the context and the transaction documents to give a useful evaluation.

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  • If I serve the property with a small claims suit and I lose what can I be charged for

    My girlfriend was almost towed from an apartment community whose lack of property maintenance lead her to park in a place that said visitor but was apparently reserved and as soon as I complained about the $300 tow fee they immediately went out an...

    Jerry’s Answer

    I agree with Mr. Lassen. It is not clear from your inquiry whether anybody was actually towed, or whose apartment is involved (Yours? Your girlfriend's? Somebody else's?). If your girlfriend was "almost" towed but she did not actually incur a fee, there's nothing to sue about unless the change in parking rules violated her lease or yours. If she was towed and had to pay a fee, she's the one who would do the suing, if anyone. There is a special procedure for contesting towing charges, and the towing company is required to give a handout to vehicle owners for this procedure.

    From your inquiry, it seems that you are annoyed by the apartment management's practices but don't have any actual dollar damage. The law won't compensate you in dollars for annoyance. If you sue just to vent your aggravation knowing that you don't have a case, maybe somebody involved could sue you for abuse of process, but this seems improbable. Mostly, you would be wasting your time.

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  • Is it legal for landlord to throw away my belongings while living in the unit (Not abandoned)

    Landlord left notice that anything left on patios that they deem shouldn't be there, they would throw out. What RCWs are there regarding that this is not legal. I am under the impression that they cannot throw out a tenants belongings...help please.

    Jerry’s Answer

    It is not clear whether this pertains to common-area patios or unit patios associated with individual apartments. Either way, the landlord is allowed to promulgate reasonable rules of conduct. If not already in the lease, the rules can be promulgated or changed with 30 days' advance notice. Whether the issue pertains to a common-area patio or a unit patio could affect how the term "reasonable" is applied. The landlord's test "shouldn't be there" seems a bit too vague, but maybe the context makes it clear in a way not disclosed in your inquiry. You are right that the landlord cannot dispose of a tenant's belongings without going through a process of notice, storage, and sale. The expense of that process could be borne by the tenant if the landlord's handling of the property is in accordance with duly-promulgated rules. The landlord cannot side-step the issue by saying something like "anything we find left overnight on the patio will be deemed abandoned and discarded." If property left on patios is a genuine issue, the landlord's remedy is to issue a 10-day notice to comply with the lease (or comply with duly-promulgated rules), which is a pre-eviction warning. A link to the abandoned-property statute, RCW 59.18.310, follows this answer, but I have a feeling there is more background to the case than has been disclosed so far.

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  • Is a backdated signed residential lease valid to show that I have actually been in a one year lease and not month to month?

    I entered into a residential lease (I'm the tenant renting condo from owner) in Seattle on 9/14/2014. I renewed this lease for another year term so my lease is now set to expire in 9/14/2016. On March 30th, 2016, my previous landlord sold his ...

    Jerry’s Answer

    I agree with Mr. Nozzolillo that the landlord's signature should do the job, but I'll be amazed if he actually signs it for you. When he sold the property, he must have made representations to the buyer about the length of your tenancy. If the seller-landlord told the buyer that it was month-to-month but now says it was really for a year, the seller-landlord will have significant liability to the buyer. Maybe the buyer should have exercised more due diligence by asking you instead of relying merely on the seller.

    But here is a potential problem for you: From your inquiry it seems that your lease was renewed for a term beginning on 9/14/2015 and ending on 9/14/2016. If so, your lease is for a year and a day, that is, more than a year. In this state a lease for more than a year is enforceable only as a month-to-month tenancy unless the landlord's signature is notarized in the same manner as a deed. If your landlord signs the lease for a year and a day but doesn't have his signature notarized in the same manner as a deed, you only get a month-to-month tenancy. I'd hate to think the landlord is crass, but maybe he's giving the illusion of helping you by offering to sign, when his signing does not really help you. On the other hand, if your lease really starts and ends within a 1-year period (i.e., not more than one year), the landlord's signature is a commitment for a year, not month-to-month. An example of a lease period not more than a year: 9/14/2015 to 9/13/2016.

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  • How would I be able to get my gun rights back?

    Hi my name is [redacted] I have a previous Domestic Violence Charge from 1989 and I'm looking to get my gun rights back

    Jerry’s Answer

    I agree with Mr. Rinaldi. You are better off with a lawyer who knows this stuff, but it is possible to get it done with online forms. For federal purposes, however, you may be permanently ineligible for firearm possession because of the so-called Lautenberg Amendment and US v. Hayes. The US Supreme Court is about to decide a case (Voisine v US, linked below) which might give you an opening, but as the law stands now you cannot get your federal firearm rights restored except by rare extraordinary measures.

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  • Can someone sue me if I acted in self defense? Was it self defense?

    One day I got home and my dads girlfriend backed me into a corner while screaming and yelling at me, I couldn't understand what was wrong or why she was mad. I kept asking her what her problem was and I couldn't understand what she was screaming. ...

    Jerry’s Answer

    She is "trying" to sue you? Do you mean she is threatening to sue? Or she has already had you served with a summons? Was there genuine physical injury? What was her reaction at the time? Why did she wait a year for this to come up? You have not given enough details for a reliable answer, and you should not give those details on this open forum. If you think there is a real prospect of a lawsuit coming your way, you should talk privately with a lawyer with whom your communications are confidential and privileged. Keep good records and don't get stampeded into action without legal counsel.

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  • Do my landlords need to pay for new locks after someone broke into my apartment?

    I live in the basement unit of a 4 bedroom home. I have my own doorway and my apartment is basically it's own unit. My landlords live above me. My bike got stolen from our storage unit which is part of the house. I filed a police report, and...

    Jerry’s Answer

    I agree with Mr. Gormley. A landlord has a duty to provide reasonably adequate locks, and to safeguard keys (link follows). There is no clear-cut answer to what is considered "reasonably adequate" but your inquiry indicates a good basis to argue that past rentals with no lock change over the years makes it time for the landlord to pay for new locks now.

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