Washington Supreme Court to Decide the Future Small Housing Provider in Stevens County
Greg McCrea never thought he’d have an issue under consideration before the Washington State Supreme Court, but that’s exactly where he has found himself. It is the latest first for Greg in a list of firsts including a global pandemic that upended his life and work and an unauthorized tenant living in his rental home that assaulted an elderly neighbor.
Let’s start from the beginning.
Greg joined the rental industry about four years ago when he first rented out a duplex. He saw the rental industry as an investment opportunity for his family and a way to bring in some extra income since he is a seasonal worker.
He had been renovating a house for the past three years with the intent to sell it but then the pandemic struck. When he didn’t receive interest, he decided to rent it out until he could find a buyer. The current tenants knew and understood this, but when someone expressed interest in buying the house several months ago, the tenants took action against Greg which have made it impossible for him to sell his property.
Greg is fighting back and filed an intent to sell case that was heard in the Stevens Superior Court. He won the case, but before the tenants were served the 60-day notice, they filed an appeal to put a freeze on the eviction until the pandemic is over. They won, but Greg is pursuing an appeal to this ruling.
As a seasonal worker operating heavy equipment, he has struggled during the pandemic because at times there was no work. Now, due to the eviction moratorium he is stuck paying hundreds of dollars a month on a rental house, taxes, utilities, insurance and personal loans he had to take out to keep afloat.
In addition to refusing to pay rent, these tenants have caused Greg and the neighborhood other issues including destruction of property and exhibiting aggressive behavior. One neighbor filed a restraining order against them and when that wasn’t enough, ended up selling their home and moving because they continued to receive threats. The most recent incident was when the tenant’s spouse claimed one of the elderly neighbors was trespassing on the property which resulted in a physical altercation between the two.
Unfortunately, this situation is not uncommon. Housing providers have seen as much as an 85% increase in noise complaints and a 36% increase in criminal or violent behavior on the property. Behavior-related issues are causing stress among residents, causing good tenants to be forced to leave their homes, and allowing bad tenants to remain in the property.
Governor Inslee’s unfair and unjust statewide eviction moratorium has been detrimental to housing providers like Greg who are unable to enforce lease agreements and remove disruptive tenants. As a result, they are stuck with tenants that refuse to pay rent and in some cases are also negatively impacting neighborhoods and community safety.
The eviction moratorium is set to expire at the end of June and small housing providers like Greg are calling on the Governor to not extend it further and help speed the delivery of much needed state and federal rental assistance.