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washington state--raised rent $90 what the hell?

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washington state--raised rent $90 what the hell?

Postby brokeineverett » Tue Jul 11, 2006 1:38 pm

is there a limit to ho much they can raise your rent on resigning a new lease??? isnt $90 a bit much???
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Joined: Mon Jul 10, 2006 7:35 pm
Location: everett , washington

Postby Anna » Tue Jul 11, 2006 2:56 pm

Followed TN link from previous reply
to T-union in your state:

Rent Increases

Are you looking at a rent increase? Well, the bad news is that there is no rent control in Washington State. The Tenants Union was formed in the late 70’s by folks who got a rent control initiative on the Seattle ballot; but the big landlords wildly outspent us and the initiative lost. The landlords’ association then ran to Olympia and got a statewide law passed saying that no city or county can pass any kind of rent control.

So what does this mean as far as your rent increase goes? Right now your only protection against an increase is a lease. If you have a month to month agreement (either written or verbal) your landlord can give you as many rent increases, of any amount, as often as s/he pleases. Our only protections are:

* Written notice. The landlord has to give us 30 days written notice. This does not mean any 30 days, but 30 days before the end of a rental period. For most of us this is the 1st, but if for some reason you rent from 10th to 10th, for example, then you should be notified 30 days before the 10th. If you rent from 1st to 1st and you get a notice on August 8th raising your rent, then it doesn’t go in to effect until October 1st.

Many of us have rent due on the 1st but payable on the 5th (that is to say, we have a 5 day grace period written into our contract). If this is the case you have the right to receive the notice 30 days before the 1st, not the 5th. If your lease is expiring and the landlord is going to raise your rent, they need to tell you 30 days before your rent expires. The law which lays this out is RCW 59.18.140.

If you’re a Seattle resident facing an increase in housing costs of 10% or more during the course of a year, you’re entitled to 60 days written notice. See The Sixty Days Notice Law for more information.

* Discrimination. Your landlord can not give you rent increases in a discriminatory manner. Remember, the legal definition of discrimination is based on protected classes, such as race or religion. That means a landlord can give a rent increase to everyone he doesn’t like, or to everyone who wears blue shoes, as long as he isn’t giving one to everyone who is black or who is Jewish, for example.

If you believe that you are being discriminated against, please call the agency that handles Fair Housing disputes in your area. (A list of agencies, along with more information about Fair Housing, is in our Fair Housing page.)

* Retaliation. For example, your landlord should not give you a rent increase just because you asked him to fix the sink. As the law stands, if your rent gets increased (or your services are cut back or you are asked to leave) within 90 days of asserting your rights as a tenant then it is presumed to be retaliatory, and the landlord has the burden of coming up with a non-retaliatory reason. Bringing the rent up to market rate is, unfortunately, usually considered a good reason. For a report on market rates see the research reports from Dupre & Scott Apartment Advisors.

If they do it after the 90 days you can still argue that it is retaliatory, but the burden then lies upon you the tenant to prove that it is retaliatory.

Either way, tenants always have to be able to prove that they were asserting their rights. That is why it is so important to always have a paper trail. When you assert your rights, do it in writing, and always sign, date and keep a copy. If you really want to tell them in person, then follow it up with a letter along the lines of, “To confirm our conversation of [date]”. The laws that set out our protections from retaliation are RCW 59.18.240 and 59.18.250.

Unfortunately, it is often hard to fight retaliatory rent increases. There are two ways to fight them. The risky way is to not pay the increase. This is risky because you can be taken to eviction court for paying as little as a dollar under, and eviction court is not a friendly place. You may well lose, and having an eviction on your record is worse than bankruptcy – it tends to follow you like the plague and make it very hard to rent again.

The less risky way to fight a retaliatory rent increase is to pay it, but send it along with a letter arguing that you don’t agree that you owe it, and then sue in small claims court to get it back. Small claims is much friendlier than eviction court. No attorneys are allowed and if you lose, there are no horrible repercussions. (See Guide to Small Claims Court).

You can also try having an attorney help you fight the retaliatory rent increase.

Posted: Wednesday, December 8, 2004

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