Washington tenants call out the landlord lobby

Tenants from across the state joined together July 18 to call out the unjust practices of Washington state's landlord lobby at their legal forum. 

The Rental Housing Association, RHA, has been lobbying against tenant protections and rights relentlessly, even though landlords already have broad powers across the state. So tenants stood up at RHA's forum and demonstrated the power we have -- together -- to push back against landlord lobbyists. 

Oscar

Dozens of advocates and tenants showed up to the protest, including Oscar, a mariachi singer who got us all dancing. 

But it was also an event that featured important stories from tenants and supporters across the state who are fighting against obscene rent hikes and laws that oppress tenants. 

According to police on the scene, RHA called the police preemptively, asking them to attend the event, since they knew we would attend the forum in protest. We laughed that off, since, of course, we're there to share our story and demonstrate our political power. Maybe that's scary to landlords.  

Regardless, Washington CAN was so proud to stand with tenants and advocates fighting for the same basic goals: tenant rights and protections. Hearing our stories and seeing each others' smiling faces filled us with pride. Together, we can win. 

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Activists demand Trump administration reunite families

Dozens of activists from across the Puget Sound, gathered together midday on a weekday to call out the Trump Administration for the horrifying treatment of immigrant and refugee families. 

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Washington CAN joined other immigrant-rights organizations; Casa Latina, the Washington BUS and Westside Baby; with around 70 demonstrators to stand in front of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office in Tukwila. Activists placed thousands of children's shoes on the sidewalk to represent the thousands of children who were torn from their parents at the border. We called the demonstration: Ponte en Mis Zapatos (Put Yourself in My Shoes), and it was part of a weeklong series of protests calling out the Trump administration for their despicable family separation policy.

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Several speakers told their stories of immigration and discrimination. We were particularly honored to support the children at the event who wanted to speak out to demand justice for their peers. 

Though the event was focused on a somber issue, we took space to celebrate childhood, because truly, that's what we are fighting for. The children separated at the border from their families deserve a nurturing childhood. We remembered this by watching some of the children perform a traditional dance. We will keep fighting until families are restored and this type of policy is replaced by humane practices that prioritize people and our communities. 

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Federal Way tenants fight against landlord's "move out" fees

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Tenants in a Federal Way complex were shocked when, at the end of their lease, they were sent bills for thousands of dollars for what the landlord said were for repairs and cleaning. 

One tenant, Maria, left at the end of her lease at the Kitts Corner Apartments. Mold was infesting her apartment and her property managers dismissed her concerns, treating her rudely. They never came to her apartment to make repairs. When she left, the property owners kept the security deposit, but they also charged her an additional $2,600 for "repairs."

Well, when we hear about this type of injustice, we stand by you and demand just treatment. About 15 of us marched into the property manager's office at the Kitts Corner Apartments and delivered a demand letter, asking to set up a meeting to go over tenants concerns. 

We will update you when we get a meeting scheduled. 

Issaquah tenants fight back against unjust evictions

Violeta was losing sleep after her property manager told her she would be kicked out of her home if she let her teenage son continue to live with her. 

Why, after nine years of living in this federally-subsidized apartment building, was Violeta getting 10-day notices to kick out her son? Well, her son had just turned 18, so technically was deemed an unauthorized tenant. The property manager insisted he had caused "issues" like parking slightly outside a parking space. But the image she attached on the notice made this "issue" look confusing to Violeta. How could something so minor warrant an eviction?

That's when Violeta began hearing from her neighbors that they too were getting surprising and unreasonable 10-day notices from the manager. Tenants say, the property manager was doubling their rent, or threatening eviction after a tenant was behind on rent by $1. Yes, one dollar. 

Violeta was joined by one of our organizers when she attended a meeting with the property manager trying to clear up the situation. But the property manager insisted Violeta would need to vacate if she wanted to keep her son at home. When Violeta asked where she was supposed to go, the property manager gave her a list of homeless shelters. 

Violeta took action and worked with Washington CAN to organize her neighbors and march on the property management office. Tenants and advocates delivered their own 10-day notice on April 10, urging the property manager to put an end to Management, and demanding a meeting with Imagine Housing, which owns the building, and FPI Management, which manages the building. 

Craig and his grandmas

Dozens showed up, tenants and advocates, to show their support.  The offices of two congressional candidates for the 8th District, attended to show their support. Candidate Shannon Hader and a representative from Kim Schrier attended in solidarity.  UFCW 21 and PSARA representatives also attended in support. Violeta's son was supported at the action by both of his grandmas, and reporters showed up to cover the story. 

We expect the owners and management company to respond by April 20, but hope they get back to us quickly, since tenants are currently under grave duress, afraid they will lose their homes. Help us put pressure by sharing this story on Facebook and with your friends and neighbors.