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Prohibited Communications From Debt Collectors

Posted on: February 16th, 2014 by evil0511 No Comments

Prohibited Communications From Debt Collectors

 

Debt collectors like to harass you.  They reach out to your friends, family, and do whatever they can to embarass you into paying regardless of whether the debt is valid or not.  However, there are limitations.  One limitation is that they cannot send written communications to you that have any words or symbols that indicate that they are debt collectors pursuant to 15 USC 1692(b)(5) of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act:

A debt collector may not use any language or symbol on any envelope or in the contents of any communication effected by the mails or telegram that indicates that the debt collector is in the debt collection business or that the communication relates to the collection of a debt

If a debt collector violates this, they may be liable for statutory damages to you and also be required to pay for your attorney fees.

Seattle Municipal Code 22.206.160- Extra Rights for Seattle Tenants

Posted on: February 9th, 2014 by evil0511 No Comments

Seattle Municipal Code 22.206.160

Extra Rights for Seattle Tenants & Pitfalls for Landlords

 

Residential tenancies are governed by RCW 59.18 in the state of Washington.  However, these rules are modified in the city of Seattle by Seattle Municipal Code 22.206.160.

For tenants, this is a bonus as it puts a just cause eviction requirement and places additional duties and limitations on landlords.  For landlords, it usually represents additional work and pitfalls to work around.

The just cause ordinance is the most potent aspect of SMC 22.206.160.  On overview of the statute can be found here.  Some of the most common just cause conditions include:

  • Failure to pay rent
  • Habitual failure to pay rent (4 or more pay or vacate notices within a one year period)
  • Habitual failure to follow the terms of the rental agreement (3 or more notices for substantial failure to comply or vacate within a one year month period)
  • Landlord wishes to sell the property (requires 90 days advance written notice prior to the sale)
  • Landlord wishes to move into the property or have an immediate family member move into the property as a primary residence (requires 90 days advance written notice)
  • Landlord seeks to substantially rehabilitate, demolish, remove use restrictions, or change the use of the property

A tip guide for landlords created by the City of Seattle is also a helpful resource and can be found here.

A tip guide for tenants can be found here.

If you live or rent in the city of Seattle, be sure to know your rights under this municipal code!

https://www.seattle.gov/dpd/codesrules/codes/justcauseordinance/default.htm

 

Landlord Tenant Law Series: Ejection, Tenancy at Will, and Getting Rid of Tenants with No Lease

Posted on: February 7th, 2014 by evil0511 No Comments

Landlord Tenant Law Series: Ejection, Tenancy at Will, and Getting Rid of Tenants with No Lease

No good deed goes unpunished.  You had some extra space or even a second home and out of the goodness of your heart you let some friends move in as they had no where else to go.  Now they won’t leave.

Under Washington Law, this type of situation is called a “tenancy at will” and it is not easy to resolve.

Unlike a landlord in a traditional lease situation under the landlord tenant act (RCW 59.18 et. seq.), you do not have the ability to just issue a three day pay or quit notice and swiftly evict the tenant.  Instead, you have to use the very slow and costly procedures available under RCW 7.28 for ejection- which in essence is a trial on an unexpedited basis.

There is a temptation to resort to self help such as simply locking the “tenants” out, shutting off utilities, etc.  However, self help by landlords is not allowed and can result in significant damages to include damages and attorney fees.

Generally, the best way to deal with a tenant at will is to offer money to move out (cash for keys) with the threat to file a suit if they do not move.  It is important to note that any suit for eviction, or ejection in this case, will be part of the permanent court record and will be seen on any background or rental check.  With that in their background, it will be very difficult to rent again and if they do they often will have to pay a premium to do so.

A combination of carrot and stick is often the most effective method in a tenancy at will situation.

 

Fighting Collection Claims Using Evidentiary Objections

Posted on: January 25th, 2014 by evil0511 No Comments

Fighting Collection Claims Using Evidentiary Objections

Did you know that most collection lawsuits can be defended by using evidentiary objections?

An evidentiary objection in layman’s terms means objecting to the evidence, or the lack thereof, that a creditor is relying upon in their lawsuit.  Here is an example of a typical allegation that will appear in a collection suit:

1.   ABC Generic Collections, Inc. is properly licensed in the State of Washington to collect debts.  ABC purchased the debt from the original creditor Bigbadbank, NA and therefore has standing to collect upon the debt.

Unless the lawsuit is accompanied by a purchase and sale agreement, assignment, or some other document to show the transfer of the debt, this is just an unfounded statement.

In your answer, you would want to deny that ABC has been assigned the debt and point out that the creditor has not attached any evidence to support this allegation.

If the creditor has the actual document, then they will need to produce the document.  If not, there is a good chance the judge will dismiss the case.

When reviewing a collection claim, be sure to object to everything that is logical to object to and let the judge sort it out.  However, do not object to everything blindly (such as claiming you are not married if you are or that you live at a certain address if you do).  The typical allegations that you will want to object to in a collection claim are: 1) assignment of the debt to the present creditor, 2) that the amount of the debt is correct, 3) that you owe this debt, 3) that service of the complaint upon you was proper.

Defending a collection using evidentiary objections can be a successful strategy if used properly.

How the Washington Foreclosure Fairness Mediation Act Can Help Homeowners

Posted on: December 28th, 2013 by evil0511 No Comments

How the Washington Foreclosure Fairness Mediation Act Can Help Homeowners

 

In 2011, the Washington State Legislature enacted the Foreclosure Fairness Mediation Act.

This Act was passed in part to combat Bank’s reluctance to deal fairly and directly with homeowner’s who are seeking loan modification, deed in lieu of foreclosure, and other loss mitigation options.

One of the requirements of the Act is that prior to starting the foreclosure process, the beneficiary (meaning the lender or bank/financial institution that owns the promissory note and deed of trust) must attempt to contact the homeowner regarding potential work outs as an alternative to foreclosure.

This contact is usually in the form of a letter also known as a notice of pre-foreclosure options letter.  If you respond to the letter within thirty days, you can elect to meet directly with the beneficiary.  The meeting is also known as a “meet and confer.”  Often times, it is possible to obtain a loan modification or other work out.

If the “meet and confer” is not successful, it is also possible to go to “mediation.”  The Washington Department of Commerce oversees the mediation program.  To request mediation, you need to speak with an attorney or authorized housing counselor.

Mediation differs from the “meet and confer” in that a Mediator is assigned by the Department of Commerce to assist both the homeowner and the beneficiary.  Often this process can be successful where the “meet and confer” was not because it is more guided and controlled.  Further, if the beneficiary does not negotiate in good faith, it can be a defense to the foreclosure.

The Foreclosure Fairness Mediation Act has been a positive development for homeowners in getting an opportunity to sit down with the beneficiary and determine if a loan modification or some other work out is possible.