Having stable housing is a basic human need. I started volunteering at Housing Justice Project in 2013 and soon realized there was a significant need for attorneys who represent tenants. Although Washington affords more protections than other states, most of those protections belong to the landlord. In the age of technology, tenants have access to the Revised Landlord Tenant Act (RLTA), but this may cause more confusion than clarity. For example, reading the statute on its face may lead a tenant to believe they can withhold rent if the property needs repairs. However, it is almost never acceptable to withhold rent. After seeing tenants coming into court with no representation and hearing tenant stories about not being able to find an attorney to take their case, I decided to devote a part of my practice to filling that void.
- Do I have a case?
Sometimes, you just want a quick answer, but attorneys cannot give legal advice to non clients. If you purchase this service, you become my client during the consultation. I can take the time to review your particular situation, how the law applies to that situation and render a legal opinion.
- What are my options?
Sometimes hiring an attorney may cost more than what you would recover. This occurs most often when dealing with a security deposit. I can advise you on the landlord’s obligations, your obligations and rights, draft a short correspondence to the landlord, or advise you about bringing a small claim.
- What should I bring?
You should bring all paperwork relating to your tenancy, a timeline of events, the lease or relevant agreement, receipts and the names of any possible witness.
- What if I need more help after the consultation?
If you do not feel confident in proceeding on your own, I provide limited or full representation.
During a tenancy smaller disputes can arise. Limited representation gives you the option of hiring an attorney to address a specific issue.
- Request for repairs
- Deducting work performed from the rent
- Extra lease agreements
- Unforeseen costs such as propane, leaky pipes, broken appliances
- Changes in rent collection
- Change of ownership
- Harassment by your landlord
- Personal property damage
Eviction Defense Through Show Cause Hearing
- When a landlord wants to evict you, they must file a lawsuit called an unlawful detainer action.
- In this kind of action things happen very quickly. An eviction can take as little as two and a half weeks, so it is important that you contact an attorney immediately if you receive any papers from your landlord.
- Many times the dispute can be settled through negotiation. If both parties are unable to come to an agreement, it will proceed to a show cause hearing. This is a tenant’s opportunity to present any defenses.
- Three things can happen at a show cause hearing: 1. The case can be dismissed; 2. The court can rule in favor of one party; or 3. The case can be set for trial.
I represent tenants through the show cause hearing for a flat fee. If the case is set for trial, I require a new fee agreement and a deposit of $4,000.
Eviction Defense at Trial
If a dispute is unable to be resolved and is set for trial I offer full representation for trial.
Illegal Lockouts (Forcible Detainer) – Statutory attorney fees
Washington does not allow self-help evictions. If you have been locked out of the property without going through the judicial eviction process, it may be an illegal lockout. I provide representation at no cost to the tenants. If you prevail, I collect attorney fees from the landlord as allowed by the statute.
Full Representation for Damages
I represent tenants in claims they have against a landlord that could not be addressed in an unlawful detainer action such as:
- Post lockout damages
- Damages to personal property
- Wrongful withholding of the security deposit