Tacoma mother homeless after landlord evicts her, despite paying rent
There is a new report that projects that the number of Americans who are homeless could double in two years because of the pandemic. Despite an eviction moratorium in place, there are still people who are losing their homes through no fault of their own.
Kareena Lauer was going to school and working at a law office in Tacoma at the beginning of the pandemic. She was let go from her job in March and has been out of work since. In June, Lauer left her townhome in Tacoma to go on a road trip, then she found out she had no place to return to when she got back.
“Several hours into our trip, my neighbor from downstairs — she lived in the mother-in-law unit below me — contacted me to let me know that water was coming into her unit,” Lauer told KIRO Radio’s Gee and Ursula Show. “So it was going from my bathroom on my second floor, through the kitchen on my first floor, and into her unit. … So the next day, the manager of the of the unit contacted me and said, ‘There’s been a flood, and there is a lot of damage.'”
She was told the ceiling had caved in and another place would be found for her, but that never happened.
“As we’re driving back, I mean, I need a place to go. He says, ‘Hey, the owners are really sorry, but you just have to move. They’ll give you your deposit back.’ … I contacted the city and the city said, ‘They can’t send you out, they can’t evict you. It’s called a constructive eviction. They can’t do that. So they need to relocate you and they need to pay you relocation costs,'” she said.
“So then they finally sent me a 20-day notice to vacate,” Lauer explained. “After three times of telling me I could move in, they sent me a notice to vacate. So I contacted the city and I had the city come do an inspection because they weren’t allowed to do that. At that point they said, ‘We will relocate you. You cannot move back in.’ They just wouldn’t repair it. They didn’t want me to move back. And after I did finally vacate in November, they repaired it eight days later and then charged $1,000 more for rent than what I was paying because they could.”
Gee asked if Lauer felt like her landlord was trying to make her leave during a pandemic because she was out of work and they were trying to rent the place for more.
“Yes,” she replied. “They are business partners, they are investment owners. They’ve never lived in the home. They’ve never lived in Tacoma, and they did not like the area. It was very clear that what they were doing is just trying to charge more. … And the rent in all of Tacoma is so high right now that I was priced out of Tacoma, I couldn’t live there at all. I mean, there’s just no rentals right now because of the moratorium.”
“So I’m in this position where I do agree with the moratorium, I do agree that people shouldn’t be evicted, but I did pay rent. I used my savings to pay rent,” Lauer said. “And then after that, I used all of my savings for places to stay for traveling so that I could be with family.”
To hear the rest of her story, listen here.
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