We moved into our current house in March of last year. It is an older house (as most in Forks are) and there were many repairs that were promised to us verbally upon signing our lease. We took pictures of the current damages and kept a copy for ourselves as well gave the leasing office (at that time it was Lundsford and Assoc.) The major repairs that were brought up were mold along the walls in a couple of the rooms, broken floor boards, broken stairs, all the painting, and we were told carpet would be brought in. About two, maybe three weeks after we moved in, we got phone call that our property managers were going to be a different real estate office on Forks Ave and that the owners were coming to do a walk through. Again, we were told that the major damages to the home were going to be fixed while we were still living in the house. In addition to those fixes, the roof was going to be replaced and all of the single paned windows in the house would be replaced with double paned ones. We were happy with these upcoming changes.
Months go by and then we are told (by now it is November) that roofers would be coming to start ripping off the old roof and replacing it with a new and better one. Did I mention that at this point I am six months pregnant? The roof takes about two weeks and numerous leaks were caused. One in the kitchen and one over the back sliding door. We made the roofers aware and let Real Estate company know. We were told that the owner of the roofing company would be out on Wednesday (this was a Monday) to fix it. He never showed. And the result is that there is a bubble over the back door and every time it rains a large puddle by the back sliding door.
During this time, we are also having a hard time personally, as my husband got diagnosed with a brain aneurism and we have to wait until after the first of the year to get to see a doctor in Seattle to find out how bad it is. Then, we find out his employer let his insurance lapse and his paycheck bounced, all before Christmas. After Christmas, we get a phone call from the real estate company saying that they are going to begin replacing the windows December 28, it’s going to take three days and that I (being 7 months pregnant) have to leave during this time because the paint around the windows was tested and was positive for lead. When my husband said that they would need to pay for our hotel for those days, we immediately got a call back saying it would only take ONE day to replace over 10 windows in our house.
December 28th comes and the repairman from a contruction company that contracts with the real estate office comes and begins the repairs. When he came, he let me know that he didn’t have a helper and that it might take an extra day because he would have more help the next day. So, mildly upset, I left for the day. I came back that night and the windows were all lined up in my garage, and only one window had been changed out. Mind you, it wasn’t finished. It was just shimmed in place. The guy showed up the next day and had another person with him. They managed to pull out four upstairs windows (two in the master bedroom, one in my son’s playroom, and one in the second large bedroom) again, they were not completed, only shimmed in place. You can literally see light on the sides on the frame and feel the wind coming in. The week finishes out with the repairman telling us that this job is going to take about two weeks, because there is a lot of rot around the large picture windows that are all over the downstairs, that each window will take at least three days to complete. At which point, he builds a make-shift wall in our dining room out of two by fours and black plastic, essentially rendering our dining room unusable. It also causes a short in the electricity in that room as well as the stairwell that is above it.
Monday January 3rd finds us in Seattle for my husband’s first angiogram to see how bad the aneurism is. We are told that there are two in his brain and that they want to do surgery as soon as they can get us in (which turns out to be January 17). No one shows up for the windows while we are gone or once we get back. At this point, we begin staying only upstairs in the master bedroom (by we, I mean my husband, my 6 year old son, and myself), we also had my brother-in-law living with us at this time and he was in the second large bedroom. We have electric space heaters heating just those two rooms, because there isn’t much point in running the oil furnace to heat the whole house when the windows aren’t keeping any warmth in, and letting all the wind and rain in.
January 14th we go to the real estat office to pay our rent (as it is due on the 15th of each month and the 15th is a Saturday). Plus, we will be in Seattle that following Monday for my husband’s surgery. I am now eight months pregnant. We ask for an update on the house and to inquire why the repair man hasn’t been back, because our house is like an icebox. We are told by the managing broker and office manager that the window work had to stop until a city inspector can come out because ASBESTOS had been found. We asked why we weren’t told and should we be worried. We were told probably not. But, they couldn’t touch the house until it cleared the inspection. When will that be? Their answer is they don’t know whenever they can get someone out. We mention the electric and the stairs (especially now since one broke completely). No worries, it will get fixed. We put a couple screws in the stair ourselves to hold it until it could get replaced.
The inspector came out the week of January 24th. He takes samples of everything in the house: walls, floors, trim, etc. He tells us that as long as the house clears the tests, work can begin promptly. And that if the asbestos is in the floors, that can be solved by just covering it up and not breaking into it (mind you, we were promised carpet upon moving in). We were told that they would just section off rooms that they were working on, as they worked on them and that we could continue to live in the home. The results of the tests would be back by that Friday and that final decisions would be made from there. We never found out the results to the test.
I give birth to our second son on January 31st and spend two nights in the hospital.
February 12th brings some of the strongest winds to hit Forks in a while. My son and husband our in the bedroom (the second large one with a half-done window in it) playing Xbox, my husband sends my son out to come get me and as he moves the window comes crashing in! My husband goes over to real estate office and flips out on the guy who is in the office. The guy tells him that he has no power and that he only comes to clean the offices but that he will call the managing broker to get something done. In the meantime, my husband grabs a couple nails and puts the window back in place. No one shows to fix it.
February 15th we go into pay rent and make a complaint about the window. We are told that they will get someone over to look at it. We inquire about where things stand with the repairs and are told that they will begin again soon.
March 29th, we take our infant son to the hospital because he has been coughing and not eating. They give him a breathing treatment and tell us to come back the next day. We do and they tell us that he is looking better, but to keep an eye on him and to continue giving him breathing treatments because he breathing is labored.
March 31st, I am at our company office waiting on a repairman to come and fix the leak in the ceiling there (at 51 N Forks Ave), the repairman turns out to be the guy who was working on our house. I ask him if he has any news/details on our house because we have gotten nowhere with the Real Estate office. He tells me that the owner has okayed the fixes and they would begin everything when the weather gets warmer and dryer. Keep in mind; we are still only living in two rooms of our house. We have to literally put a space heater in the kitchen for 20 minutes before going down to cook dinner. While at the office, I get a phone call from my husband that our son has gotten worse and we take him over to the ER, he is diagnosed with pneumonia and they place an IV in his arm, put him in an oxygen tent and keep him separated from all the other patients. He is in there over night and into the next day. Discharged with orders to give him at least three breathing treatments a day and come back in a few days to see if he is improved.
June 1st, we are given notice from the Real Estate company that the owner wants us out of the house by July 15th so that they can do a full restoration on the house. We are also told that there are no three bedrooms or larger home available in Forks. More or less, we are kicked out of our home with nowhere to go.
June 6th, I call the Washington state tenants union and they tell me about a couple websites that I can look up to get the tenant rights and what not, on their site it talks about the “Warranty of Habitability”. I look up laws and upon learning new information and printing out different pages from the site (and under the advice of family and friends) we decide that we should go talk to the people at the Real Estate office about trying to get back if not all, then a portion of the rent we had been paying since January, due to the fact that once the window work began, we were unable to utilize a majority of our home.
June 9th, my husband and I go to the office to speak with the office manager at the real estate office. She asks us to wait, that she needs us to meet with the managing broker once he is free. So, we wait. The managing broker comes to get us, and we go back to his office. He turns to us and says that the office manager told him we are asking about the warranty of habitability and that we needed to get an attorney because he wouldn’t help us. He then proceeded to tell us that a judge would ask us why it took us six months to complain if the house was not able to be lived in. And that because we didn’t have actual paperwork to back it up that it would just wind up costing us money and that we wouldn’t get anything from it. We told him that the reason we stayed and paid the full rent was because we felt that there had been a verbal contract and a lot of promises made to us: that everything would be fixed. And now that the weather is warming up and we are able to go back downstairs and enjoy the entirety of our home, we have to move. AND there are no homes big enough to accommodate my family. My husband asked him if nothing came available by July 15th, what happens to us. I chimed in and said that according to the law help pages, we can still stay there, but after three days then can serve another notice to us and then begin the proceedings of removing us from the property. That they couldn’t just kick us out, when we had nowhere to go. And that they aren’t allowed to lock us out of our home unless we abandon it and say that to them. The managing broker then speaks up and says that I am wrong, that they will get the sheriff to come and physically remove us if we are not out. I was later told that I was right, and he was wrong.
June 16th my husband gets a call from the office manager from Real Estate company. She tells him that they are coming in the morning with an appraiser to look at the house and take picture of it. My husband tells her no because no one will be home during the day, that she would need to come later. She said she will just let herself in. My husband then says, “Whatever. Do what you have to.” Since she didn’t take no as the answer.
June 17th we get another call from the office and she tells us that the state of our house (ex: clothes and boxes everywhere, dishes in the sink, the grass is not cut, and that we have flies) is unacceptable and we are breaking our lease agreement that we signed (which was up in September 2010 and we have been on a month-to-month since then) and that the situation needed to be remedied immediately. I then told her that we had an appointment with an attorney and we would be telling him all about the state of our home and the fact that she was supposed to give us two days written notice to enter our home and she didn’t, and that the law says she is required to do so. She then tells me that Benjamin (my husband) told her she could enter the home. I said, “That’s still not written notice or two days’ notice, so I will still be telling an attorney.” She then says “Well, then I will be posting a ten day notice to correct the listed items or vacate the premises.” After a few more moments on the phone, she says she won’t make the official posting if she sees the work being done.
June 19th we go to see an attorny and he tells us that he is not willing to take out case because we have no paperwork showing the complaints. Even though our pictures show fully that the house is unlivable. He says that the work he would have to do to win the case is not worth what he would get paid.
So, now I am on a mission to try and find a good lawyer who will help us. I just can’t seem to catch a break lately. Just need a little help, you know?
Please repost this, tweet this, pass it on. They should be held accountable, regardless of paperwork. It should be wrong to treat people like they have treated us. And the more people that read this and pass it on, the bigger the impact!
If you are able to help, or know anyone who can, please do.
The link below is if you want to donate to helping us get back on our feet & into a nice home.
Thank you for your time.