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Landlord’s statement on dilapidated building is reason to be suspicious

The Washington Attorney Generals' Office says it's racially discriminatory to use a felony conviction against a potential tenant. (AP)

The new owner of a dilapidated South Seattle building says he didn’t know how bad conditions were when he bought it.

The apartment building at 6511 Rainer Ave. South is in dismal condition, KING 5 reports. Renters say there are health and safety violations, including mold and damaged property.

To make things worse, residents were told their rent was being hiked up. That includes Sahro Farah, who was paying $550 and now has to pay $1,150, KING 5 reports.

According to the city’s Department of Planning and Development, one unit has been looked at, after a complaint. More complaints have come in since then.

Seattle City Council members have even called out the owner of the building for trying to avoid paying relocation assistance by forcing tenants out with rent hikes.

However, some are arguing the issue is becoming a bigger deal than it really is. Roger Valdez of Smart Growth Seattle told KING 5 that the previous owner of the building deferred maintenance and kept rents low. Now the new owner, Carl Haglund, is trying to get building conditions up to snuff, which requires higher rent.

Haglund issued a statement that says, in part, that the building passed the city’s Rental Registration and Inspection Ordinance. However, he found that “multiple families” were living in unsuitable units. As a show of good faith Haglund is not charging tenants rent during October.

Haglund is obviously going to reject any accusations that he is a “slumlord,” KIRO Radio’s Tom Tangney said.

Tom Tangney: He said he was shocked when the sale first went down. He’s realized he has a huge PR problem.

Brian Moote: I get that maybe he runs a large company and bought a building he hasn’t seen. But to double the rent is ridiculous.

TT: He insists that’s not the case. Out of the 13 tenants, 10 have agreed to work with it.

Tom points out that the rent prices were not economically sustainable, especially if there were plans to fix the building up.

TT: If you believe him that he didn’t know what he was buying … that’s where I’m a little suspicious. I’m not sure people would buy that blindly.

BM: It sounds like a free roll to me. If you move out you move out, if you don’t you don’t. It sounds like they are paying market rate for bugs and holes in your doors.

TT: Nobody should be living in those kinds of conditions.

BM: As a renter I’m immediately skeptical.

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