KTTH OPINION

Gross: Why Seattle ‘nightmare tenant’ can now stay in rental into 2024

Oct 24, 2023, 9:19 AM | Updated: 10:19 am

constitutional unlawful detainer...

Exterior of Jason Roth's rental property in Madison Valley, the subject of an unlawful detainer case in Washington. (Photo courtesy of The Jason Rantz Show)

(Photo courtesy of The Jason Rantz Show)

The nightmare tenant’s free ride in a Seattle rental home will continue into 2024, if not longer, as a continuance was granted in the long-awaited eviction hearing in King County Superior Court Monday. 

The Jason Rantz Show on KTTH has chronicled the wild saga of this property in the Madison Valley neighborhood since July. The tenant, Kareem Hunter, moved in and immediately asked for assistance. The property owner, Jason Roth, was willing to work with him to set up a payment plan. In the subsequent weeks, Roth learned that a portion of his property was being listed on Airbnb and his tenant was turning a profit — all while not paying rent.

More on Madison Valley’s ‘nightmare tenant’: Landlords ditching Seattle over nightmare tenants, laws

The situation regarding the tenant forced Roth to move into a van, which he modified, as he was a mechanic by trade.

“I consider myself lucky that I was able to build out a nice little camper van given the situation,” Roth said in July. “But I’m embarrassed. This sucks. I am paying for this guy to live in this house.”

The most recent development surfaced from a social media account that showed wild parties being thrown at the residence. Roth confirmed that it was his home being shown in the photos. He originally bought the home in 2016.

Roth was dissatisfied with the outcome of Monday’s hearing, but he was not surprised.  

“Each (case) got continued,” Roth told The Jason Rantz Show. “There was no reading of facts or anything. It was purely show up, get your name called, (a) free lawyer (gets) provided (for the tenant), (the case gets) continued, leave.”  

The case is now set to be heard on March 12, 2024, a date which occurs after the terms of the original lease Roth’s tenant signed expires. Yet, Roth will still not be able to get his property back.

More from Max Gross: Spokane mayor touts crime reduction results that Seattle should notice

Eviction hearings ‘illegally’ pushed as nightmare tenants run amok

“(The eviction process) was always designed to be an expedited process so it didn’t take months for a housing provider to have their property restored to them when a tenant stopped paying or other lease violation,” William Shadbolt, managing director of the Washington Business Properties Association, said to The Jason Rantz Show on KTTH in an email.  

Shadbolt believes the county is violating state law when it puts off cases. RCW 59.18.370 states “the judge shall by order fix a time and place for a hearing of the motion, which shall not be less than seven nor more than thirty days from the date of service of the order upon defendant.”

“Now, in King County, but not in other counties, the courts are delaying cases in violation of state law, taxpayer-funded attorneys for tenants are contesting virtually every case and using underhanded tactics …” Shadbolt said an email to KTTH.

An example Shadbolt cited was “allowing a default judgment and then at the last minute applying and getting a stay. Finally the sheriff isn’t assigning enough deputies to serve writs.”

With the eviction process working in favor of tenants in the last few years, small Seattle landlords believe the newly implemented legislation treats honest, on-time tenants the same as irresponsible scoundrels. 

“The result of this is the acceleration of small housing providers (like myself) selling their King County properties,” Shadbolt said to KTTH. “For large apartment buildings, this massively increase cost is being passed onto residents and disruptive tenants can’t be removed.”

Charlotte Thistle, a Seattle-based landlord who is a part of a network of small-scale housing providers working to support each other called Seattle Grassroots Landlords, claimed new laws recently implemented by local lawmakers over the last several years as part of the problem. These measures were pitched as ways to mitigate the threat of “evil corporate landlords,” according to Thistle, but end up hurting small property owners who are trying to provide affordable housing options.

More on laws in Washington: Tacoma’s extreme ‘renters rights’ initiative will kill rental market

In a March Seattle City Council meeting, several small landlords cited a lack of analysis, information, support, outreach and public safety as reasons for the growing frustrations. In addition, the collection of small housing providers believes the city government is making it increasingly complex and contradictory for them to operate as landlords, with a rapid increase of tenant ordinances and laws from both the city and the state over the last six years.

According to Seattle Grassroots Landlords, nearly one-quarter of available rental units provided by small landlords are being taken off the Seattle-area market.  

“It is so bad that people are just selling their properties and leaving in droves,” Thistle told The Jason Rantz Show on AM 770 KTTH in August.

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show on weekday afternoons from 3-6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here. Follow Jason on X, formerly known as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

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Gross: Why Seattle ‘nightmare tenant’ can now stay in rental into 2024