Thursday, September 19, 2013

Landlord Hell, chapter 1

"They write horror movies that are not this bad!" I've muttered to myself and any poor sap unfortunate enough to get near me these past 2 months…….  I've become a walking nightmare myself - life is too short for this.

It began with a phone call from the friend who was living in my basement apartment in my Washington house while I've been gone.  "Karyn, I don't know if you realize this but your (upstairs) renter has moved out.  I talked to the new renter tonight….."

"HUH?"  I was just home 3 weeks ago and, aside from a mountain of yard work that I had to tackle and drains that needed some persuasion, everything was pretty much fine.  My tenant hadn't mentioned moving….  And WHO was this stranger who had moved into my home?  And HOW did he get there?

It started out naively enough, I suppose.  My tenant moved in with a girlfriend and when they broke up and she moved on, he thought getting a roommate would be the perfect way to save a few bucks on housing.  BUT, the guy doesn't seem to be cut out for roommates and, according to his side of the story there was a disagreement over paying rent.  A couple calls to the police, a few too many drinks, something tossed into a mirror, possibly a couple punches hurled - and the next thing you know, the tenant is being dragged off to jail in handcuffs and - Your's Truly is mired in landlord hell.

Seems in the state of Washington, when there is a 'domestic dispute', the offending party is removed, tossed in the pokey and banned from returning to their home for months until the blind woman of "justice" has done her thing.  (And, given what all this set in place for me, the landlord - - the keyword is "blind" and lady justice is, frankly, a bitch.)

The landlord has no say in these matters - so I'm left with a guy in my house I don't know, haven't checked out and who "knows his rights" - meaning, he can squat in my house without paying rent until I pay a boat load of cash to get the courts to remove him.

This seems serious so I fly back to Washington (and you know if I get on a plane, it is SERIOUS!) to oversee things.  

Course, I didn't count on coming back to my house to find my squatter friend has decided that my place would be a grand location to host a couple of his pals.  Best guess - he found them at one of the missions in Seattle.  There were, after all, cushions in the back of their beater car, perfect for sleeping on, and one of the men offered up that he hadn't worked for years!  (A comment I had no trouble believing)

The police were of no help.  They won't remove someone from your home just because some stranger moved into your house and decides your home is a flophouse.  If you are afraid to be sleeping in an apartment in the same home - well, they offer that you can go sleep with a friend, or they will come to your aide if you are harmed but not before.  

And, I didn't feel comforted overhearing a phone conversation by one of the buddies in which the terms "when the cops showed up" and "bail" were used - - a lot!

After weeks of legal work and frustration, my day in court came.  The judge looked at the paperwork and had some trouble with it.  ("Aah, gee….," I'm thinking.)  When clarified, it seemed that, in his mind this was not so much a tenant problem but a trespassing issue (I am starting to really like this guy!) but he admitted that the police wouldn't remove people if they don't have a black mask over their faces.

But, with his signing of the eviction papers - my troubles are still not over…..

(to be continued…..)

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