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Housing/construction rights for the disabled?

Discussion in 'Lifestyle Management' started by zoe.a.m., Dec 17, 2011.

  1. zoe.a.m.

    zoe.a.m. Senior Member

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    Olympic Peninsula, Washington
    I've followed some individual's experiences here on their struggles with construction and noise and other problems, but I can't locate any information specific to what right's disabled people have. Does anyone know if they differ state-to-state or if there are federal laws? I've contacted the two tenancy agencies (can't get a person, been trying for over a month...) and the attorney general's office and have come up with nothing specific other than that a disabled person can leave a place with little, or almost no, notice.

    Since I moved a few months ago, everything has been a struggle (I haven't really slept since September--not an entire night's sleep anyway or anything close), but mostly my landlords. I have counted 3 weeks in total that they have not required access to my rental. Three times I have woken up to find my landlord doing something in the living room. Twice I was texted either an hour or so before, but was asleep!, and had no option to say no. My health has been so poor the past 6 wks+ that I finally said no to a request when I received it the night before, and again was woken to my landlord shouting "hello, hello! I'm coming in!"

    I have explained to them that I have back-to-back appt.'s in December due to my health coverage ending in January, and have had to miss and cancel several because of the interruptions. Just last night I received a text that they will need to have access for the next two weeks! I said no, that I could not accommodate that, and found a note left from today's (denied) visit, that they will be back on Monday. They have plans that involve taking windows apart, the ceiling, floor and parts of the walls.

    So, has anyone else been through anything like this (I haven't to this degree...ever)? This is not work like a water heater exploding or something emergent. I requested an energy audit due to the high (HIGH!) electric bills and it turns out that there are problems everywhere. My plan has been to move as soon as possible as I know that I can't be living in an area with heavy work being done, and certainly not in the most pressure-filled weeks of the year. I warned them that I would contact a lawyer if they came again and they did. The police do not handle/enforce rental issues in WA--I did ask them.

    Sorry for how long-winded this is. I'm exhausted and running on empty and just in disbelief that I was woken up and kept from sleeping yet again, and that not even a firm "NO" stopped it. I've searched and searched for rights and info and can't find anything specific. Thanks to anyone who might be able to help.
  2. ggingues

    ggingues $10 gift code at iHerb GAS343 of $40

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    Sorry for what you are going thru, sound horrible!

    I can't think of the name, but I thought there were free or cheap legal rsources for poorer people.

    I would think they have to gvie you 24 hours notice, unless an emergency, which you say it isn't, and it doesn't sound like it to me. Some landlords are just pushy and/or are ignorant of laws or just don't care. Have you given notice? So perhaps they want to have the place as ready as possible for the next tenant?

    GG
  3. Ocean

    Ocean Senior Member

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    tenants rights

    Does this help in terms of knowing your rights? You're in WA right?


    On page 11 (page 14 on the pdf) it talks about landlords giving notice to enter, and spells out that in most cases it's two days notice required. You may want to look for tenants rights associations in your area and see if they can help beyond that. It sounds like you can't refuse them entry for repairs but that they need to give adequate notice. But if they are coming in every day and it's an abnormal situation, I would look for a tenants rights organization to help.Maybe you could argue that your place is not habitable while they are doing such major repairs and they should have to put you up elsewhere till they're done? But I'd start with finding out your specific rights first. Doing a quick search this is the first thing that came up listing some resources.
    http://www.atg.wa.gov/ResidentialLT/default.aspx.

    I didn't read that whole document I linked to in the first paragraph so there may be more in there that applies to your situation about doing extensive work while you're still living in the unit. I don't know of any specific rights disabled people have on this issue that would differ from what anyone else has but I could be wrong and obviously that would vary from state to state and even sometimes city or county. Get a copy of the laws in your area from your city, I think that would be the best first step. Good luck.
  4. zoe.a.m.

    zoe.a.m. Senior Member

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    Olympic Peninsula, Washington
    Thank you guys for sharing your thoughts/info.
    My landlords definitely fall under the category of pushy and disturbed. The other tenant (next door) of theirs just left suddenly less than 2 wks ago. The energy company people who did the audit and have tried to work with me did tell me that she's threatened to report them and just been threatening in general. The contractor who did the audit told me he would not do the work needed because he was at the point of "losing it" with one of my landlords, and he was a very generous and patient man. The cable has not worked since they changed it right after I moved in, and the box is in the other former-tenant's place. I have no access to it. It never works and the landlord had my name/permission removed from the account when I called for technical support several times. Now the company can't do anything because I have no access, can't give them access and can't request a service call. My landlords are dishonest in all areas in which I've had to work with them, and it's really disheartening.

    I haven't given notice. I have spent every spare moment looking for an alternative and trying to troubleshoot the cost of moving again, but I've been willing to do anything for that so that I can just have a place that is mine and quiet, uninterrupted. The number of rentals where I am is limited and we have a weekly paper and craigslist. Because of the holidays, everything is sort of at a standstill.

    Ocean, I have been in contact with, and joined, the WA state tenant's assn, and also contacted Solid Ground (the other tenant-landlord org) and spoken to a lawyer for free (but I only had 15 min's--he said to get out asap). I even tried the Attorney General's office and was re-routed back to Solid Ground. While I've been able to leave voicemails, these agencies only have volunteers about 4 hrs/wk, and I've been waiting almost 6 wks for a return call. It can take a really long time. I have been told clearly that my landlords are breaking several laws (did I mention I pay the electric for their next-door rental and am not compensated and it was hidden from me and only discovered after detective work with the energy company??!!), there is no organization in WA state that enforces any of the laws, period. It's like a snake that keeps swallowing its tail. All you can do is write things to your landlords, leave, and sue in small claims. I don't know if it's just WA, or if every state is so spectacularly crappy in this area--I don't think so though...

    I keep thinking that, this is not a convenience thing: I have only so many weeks to complete certain appt's before my insurance disappears, and interruptions cost me sleep and bring infections. Yeah, I just keep thinking there must be some kind of protection for vulnerable people.
  5. Valentijn

    Valentijn Activity Level: 3

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    Amersfoort, Netherlands
    People entering your home without permission is not a "Landlord-tenant issue". It is a trespassing issue, and they have absolutely no right to do it. The only way LT law is involved is that the tenant has a duty to allow the landlord reasonable access. In Washington, that includes 48 hours notice (except to show the property to a prospective new tenant, when only 24 hours notice is required). And even when they give proper notice, you still have the right to say no - it's just grounds for eviction if you do so without a good reason.

    Your landlord needs to knock and allow you to answer the door prior to entering, even after he has given proper notice.

    Both you and the landlord need to think of your home as your property, not his. In exchange for paying rent, you have control over it, with very few exceptions.

    If he enters without proper notice or allowing you to answer the door, call the police to report a trespasser.
    Ocean likes this.
  6. Calathea

    Calathea Darkness therapy

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    Scotland
    Admittedly I'm in a different country, but in my experience, calling the police won't help. The police will say "it's a civil dispute" and leave (I've had this happen with two separate situations), and the landlord will get even nastier. Apart from putting a chain on the door and refusing to open it if you haven't been given suitable notice, I don't think there's anything you can do. Whatever you do, don't withhold rent, as landlords of this sort can get even nastier and try to evict you. You may not get your deposit back either. I've had landlords keep part of my deposit in order to pay for a repair which was not remotely my fault. Your safety is the first priority here.

    Keep badgering the associations you mentioned. Short-staffed is one thing, but you are having your health substantially endangered here, they shouldn't be leaving it 6 weeks to call you back. They may just be disorganised and have lost your number, so keep ringing them.

    I'm sorry to hear you're dealing with this, it's horrible.
  7. Ocean

    Ocean Senior Member

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    "What to do if a landlord illegally enters

    If a landlord or anyone working for the landlord enters a rental without giving proper notice, the landlord has violated state law. If your landlord, manager, or other workers come in without proper notice, send your landlord a letter including the date and time of the violation of the law and ask them not to do it again. If they do violate your right to privacy again after receiving the letter, they are liable to you for $100 every time. Please refer to the page about Small Claims Court for more information about collecting your $100."

    http://tenantsunion.org/rights/10/YourPrivacyRights
    If you haven't already done so, putting your complaints in writing and stating in writing that you will not let them in without the required 48 hours of notice would be the first step in my opinion especially in relation to the above, since the possibility of losing $100 each entry may be enough to motivate your landlord to not enter unauthorized.

    I don't know what city you are in but many cities do take care of enforcing city code so if any of the problems you're having break city housing code you could try reporting them. It sounds like maybe your city doesn't have this though, or that your issues do not fall under code violations?

    Either way at least the law is on your side in relation to the entry issue. I know you don't want to or have time or energy to deal with court but just sending a letter about it may be enough to work? In the past when I've made landlords aware in writing that I was aware of my rights and would do what I could do make sure they were honored, it often was all that was needed to make them cooperate. Maybe you've already done this but since you didn't mention it I thought I'd suggest it.
  8. zoe.a.m.

    zoe.a.m. Senior Member

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    I haven't been able to log in here other than for a bit last night--is anyone else having this problem? (It's totally off-topic here I realize...)

    The information here has helped me immensely and I've found out more, and a lot more about the limitations of what is possible here in my county of WA (where anyone relevant appears to be asleep at the wheel). I'm so tired from the past several days of comings and goings--the past two days have been under the house, so it's a very gray area--that I can't really put anything into words. Hopefully tomorrow or Thursday will find things a little better energy-wise and then I can visit with info. Most of all though, it's the particular energy of the responses that has really been influential/helpful for me, which I am very grateful for.
  9. Valentijn

    Valentijn Activity Level: 3

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    Amersfoort, Netherlands
    Not currently or while I've been sick, but I had some bad landlords while I was going to law school in Seattle. The first one (I rented the basement and shared the kitchen with him) wanted to evict me for not doing gardening while I had pneumonia, and then a hemiplegic migraine that lasted three weeks. That's when I got interested in tenant rights, and found out that not only could he not evict me for that, there were other requirements that weren't being met. He suggested a rope and a flashlight instead of a handrail and a light for my entrance, which the city made him fix up properly, as well as doing something about the bright orange mold in the bathroom where the ventilation had been blocked off.

    After he stopped giving me the silent treatment, which had been a relief while it lasted, I got my own apartment. I found out shortly after moving in that it was in the process of being sold. The new owners wanted to convert it all into condos, but eventually raised the rent to force everyone out to do a complete renovation, so they wouldn't have to comply with Seattle law requiring them to pay for moving expenses. In the process they gave me notice that I wouldn't be able to access my apartment for most of a day ... less than 24 hours notice. Not only was the time too short, there is absolutely nothing legal about trying to keep a tenant out of their apartment for any amount of time. I responded with a list of times I would be out of my apartment while in classes, and refusal to leave at the time specified :p

    Also had fun with organizing tenant meetings ... they tore down the notice twice, then emailed me a pdf scan of it to accuse me of "tortious interference" (which wasn't even the proper term), in the process proving that they had violated Seattle law. Unfortunately the DPD didn't do much about it, though we were able to get proper lighting installed.

    They also crushed my plants while storing scaffolding around my door, though I did get compensated for that when I moved out. They also nearly walled me in once by stacking it around my front door, til I informed them that they were violating the fire code :p

    They also sent us a notice saying we could no longer do laundry on the premises, asserting their lawyer told them that the clause in our lease giving us access to laundry facilities wasn't important, and listing the closest laundromats over a mile away. They quickly gave us access to a washer and dryer in a vacant unit when I kicked up a fuss about that one.

    The main problem in Washington is that most tenant protections are useless, because rent control is not allowed anywhere in the state. This means that just-cause eviction provisions are easily circumvented by the landlord raising the rent to a ridiculous amount, to force the tenant to leave.

    I'm annoyed that I ultimately "lost" and was forced out, but at least I was able to annoy them quite a bit first. I also left detailed information of their management abilities and the underlying quality of the building on an apartment review site. Oh, and they weren't able to keep up with their loan payments for the property, and all rent was going straight to the lender the last time I checked :)

    So that's why tenant law is a passion of mine, and I probably take injustices in that area a bit personally, even when I'm not affected.
  10. Ocean

    Ocean Senior Member

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    I'm with you Valentjn. Tenants protections have been a big help to me in my renting career. I never had anything too extreme like what you describe but nonetheless the laws have helped me with smaller things in the past like landlords trying to unjustly not return deposit money, things like that. It's too bad about WA having a loophole basically that allows landlords to raise the rent to exorbitant levels in order to do what is basically an unofficial eviction. I wish tenants rights laws were stronger, but in most places they don't seem to be.

    Zoe am, I hope you're finding some help out there for your situation.

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