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Joseph T G Harper
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Joseph Harper’s Answers

105 total


  • Is a lease valid If not all of the pages are signed?

    I was going through the process of renewing my lease, when it was printed it printed double sided and the rental company only got every second page of the lease initialed/signed. Things have changed and I told them I no longer wish to renew the le...

    Joseph’s Answer

    Whether you initial every single page or every other page is probably not going to matter much. A lease is a contract like any other contract, and what the law is most concerned about is whether the has been a "meeting of the minds" sufficient to form a contract. If the document shows their intent to renew and your intent to accept, then the lease will likely be considered valid. You may want to contact a landlord tenant attorney to review the document to see if there is anything you can do to back out another way, but if the only argument against the lease being valid is that some pages were not initialed while others were and the agreement itself signed, the lease will probably be considered valid.

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  • My three-year contract is up I've been there for five years Pay my rent and utilities on time and now he wants to evict me.

    There is a wall between me and the other side and they want to tear wall down and make it one big unit and get more money I'm afraid because my contract was up three years ago that he will be able to tell me to vacate

    Joseph’s Answer

    It sounds like you are on a month-to-month tenancy. In this case, a landlord only has to give you at least 20-days notice to terminate the tenancy. The notice must be given at least 20-days before the end of a normal rental period, typically on the 9th or 10th of the month, but can be given earlier so long as you have a minimum of 20-days. The notice should also specify the exact terminate date. Notice served on you must be given personally, to a person of suitable age and discretion residing in the property and mailed, or posted conspicuously on the premises and mailed. Certain cities have additional rules, such as Seattle, that do not allow 20-day notices to terminate without having just cause, but for most places, no reason is required at all. If you get a 20-day notice and are properly served, you should look to move promptly. If you do not vacate by the end of the 20-day period, or the end of the month, your landlord could then try to evict you. If you get a notice, you should contact an attorney and have it reviewed to see if it complies with the requirements of law.

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  • Can an real estate escrow include several simultaneous transactions?

    i have a condo unit that I want to sell and a willing buyer BUT there is a messy problem with a lien placed by the COA, that's been in dispute for a number of years. i am willing to pay off the lien to clear title for the purchase and they are wi...

    Joseph’s Answer

    Mr. Nguyen is correct. You should make sure your escrow company you are working with knows, which they likely are. It is common for all liens and utilities to be taken care of at closing, but definitely check with your escrow company so they are aware of what you plan to do.

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  • Am I legally required to disclose ownership of a therapeutic pet prior to either applying for rental or signing a lease?

    According to my county, therapeutic companion animals are treated as service animals. See document - http://www.kingcounty.gov/~/media/exec/civilrights/documents/SApublic.ashx The county also states that a landlord can't request proof of the dis...

    Joseph’s Answer

    That is correct that a therapeutic animal can be a service animal. It is also correct that a landlord cannot ask about what your disability is or seek proof. However, a landlord can ask for verification that the animal is a service animal or therapy animal.

    Even if there is a strict no-pets policy, you can request, in writing, a reasonable accommodation for the service/therapy animal, and generally, a landlord must provide the accommodation. There are rare circumstances where a landlord may not need to provide the accommodation, but those are few and far between. Not every accommodation for a disability must be granted by law unless it is a reasonable accommodation. For example, if you had a therapy cat and your roommate had a severe allergy to cats, such an accommodation might not be granted.

    Even with a reasonable accommodation, your animal will still need to abide by the rules otherwise for the property you are renting. You will still need to clean up after the animal and keep it from harming others, for instance. You cannot be charged a pet fee or deposit, however.

    You should Disclose that you have a service animal upfront and make the accommodation request right away.

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  • Who can serve an eviction notice in Washington State?

    I live in Arizona but own a house in Washington, where we have a tenant. Our tenant has not paid rent and I would like to serve a three-day eviction notice. The guidelines I've read say the landlord must serve the notice personally - can someone e...

    Joseph’s Answer

    • Selected as best answer

    If you cannot serve the notice, you can have an agent do so. An agent could be any person you authorize to act on your behalf, such as a resident manager, or real estate agent managing your properties, or a family member helping you. You could also hire your attorney to have the notice prepared and served. You should make sure that the person who is assisting you is able to testify, if necessary, about serving the notice.

    The notice must also be served strictly according to the requirements of RCW 59.12.040. You must give each tenant liable on the lease their own separate notice. For example, each roommate, or each spouse. The notice must be given to the tenant, or tenants, personally if possible. If you cannot personally serve the tenant(s), then you may leave a copy of the notice with a person of suitable age and discretion who resides at the premises. You must also mail copies. For example, you give one roommate a copy of the notice and you give that same roommate the other roommate's notice and mail a copy to that roommate. If you attempt these methods and cannot do either, then you may post the notices conspicuously (usually on the door) and mail copies out. If you have to mail, you must also add a day to the notice time, so a 3-day notice becomes a 4-day notice.

    3-days means 3 calendar days, however. You do not need to exclude weekends or holidays. The mailed notice does not need to be certified, but it is a good idea to have some kind of mailing receipt such as provided by certified mail. Properly serving the initial notice is essential to filing suit for evicting a tenant. Without proper service of the notice, the Court will lack the necessary jurisdiction. If you do not serve the notice properly and try to evict later, your case will get tossed for lack of jurisdiction and you will be back to square one. You may want to consult an attorney to make sure that the notice is not only proper, but that it gets served properly as well.

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  • Will a lien on my home show up in my credit report?

    I have a disagreement in which the speed of contractor work being down to my house and the quality. The contractor is demanding I pay him what he says or he will put a lien on my house. I disagree with the amount and want to pay him less. I feel l...

    Joseph’s Answer

    I agree with both answers provided. If a lien is recorded against your property, there are a couple of options to consider. There are frivolous lien procedures that may be applicable. You definitely would need to consult with an attorney to determine this as this process could be a double edged sword. You can recover your fees and costs if you win, but you will have to pay them if you lose. The lien must be foreclosed upon within 8 months if at all, so sometimes you can wait it out. Although it will be on record forever until specifically released, it will no longer be enforceable after 8 months. If a foreclosure suit is brought, you can also defend accordingly as in any other law suit. The sooner you consult with an attorney, the better prepared you should be.

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  • Lien release on construction.

    We employed a company to install heat pump in new construction. They collected down payment of 6000$ ( 50% of 12000). The job has 3 stages. Now they did first stage and sent us invoice stated that from 6000$ they used 3000$ and that we still have ...

    Joseph’s Answer

    • Selected as best answer

    If they are claiming a lien release, then they are asserting that they have waived, or do not have, lien rights. On the other hand, if they claim they are going to file a lien, that would be something else entirely. They may also have meant that they are sending you a notice of the right to claim a lien, which is required by WA law unless an exception applies. It is also possible they meant they are willing to provide you with a conditional lien release for you. It sounds like there is some miscommunication going on. Liens can be tricky, and there are requirements under the law that must be strictly followed. You may want to consult with an attorney to clarify the situation and to see if there is a problem here or not. If you paid, there should be no basis for a lien at this time, particularly if the work has not been completed.

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  • How long do I have to file a contractors lien on a single family residence after completion of work.

    Include background information that will enable lawyers to answer your question.

    Joseph’s Answer

    Both Mr. Chastain and Mr. Hoag are correct, you have 90-days from the last day worked. However, you should consult with an experienced attorney in this area to make sure you meet all the requirements and pre-qualifications. Some cases require pre-claim notice to be given, and there are certain steps you must take after recording the lien as well.

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  • How to remove a lien placed by a contractor on our property, which is both frivolous & unwarranted?

    Contractor performed the plumbing work on our home. In the process did $ 7300 in damages. We held payment and offered to sit down with owner to discuss and settle....they refused and retained an attorney. Responded to the attorney's demand letter ...

    Joseph’s Answer

    You are correct, Washington law does require that a notice to customer be given regarding liens. There are exceptions to this, however, such as the contractor contracting with another contractor exception, but it sounds like that is not applicable in this case. What makes a lien frivolous versus invalid is usually the big question in these disputes, and an invalid lien is not necessarily frivolous, as the Courts have held. Issues of frivolousness could involve whether the lien was timely filed, or even if it is excessive. If excessive, while not considered frivolous, the Court could still reduce the lien under the same procedure. You should contact your own attorney to discuss the details of your case and see. If the lien is indeed frivolous or excessive, there is a frivolous lien procedure you can take advantage of and recover your attorney's fees and costs if you prevail. You will want to be careful because if you lose, you will be responsible for paying the contractor's fees and costs. This should not have an impact on your own damages claim against the contractor either, though you may want to pursue them simultaneously.

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  • Is my landlord still required to give me 60 days notice for rent increase of 10%?

    My lease expires every year and does not go month to month. My lease expired March 31st, I did not contact my landlord to sign a new lease until April 30th. He never contacted me about the lease. He sent me a new lease on May 5th to start June 1st...

    Joseph’s Answer

    I would agree with the prior answer. Seattle Municipal Code 7.24.030 requires at least 60-days prior written notice when monthly housing costs to be charged the tenant increase by 10% or more. This means rent and any others fees charged by a landlord, but does not include utilities. If 60-days' notice is not provided, it may be a defense to a landlord's action to enforce the increase, and the landlord could also be found liable for any actual damages resulting.

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