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CalAttorney2
CalAttorney2, Attorney
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 10238
Experience:  I am a civil litigation attorney with experience representing both landlords and tenants in residential and commercial property disputes.
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I live in duplex in spokane valley. Our septic pump was broke

Customer Question

I live in duplex in spokane valley. Our septic pump was broke and landlord refuses to pay for fixing it. In fact the landlord had complete knowledge of all the months that went by without our sewer properly being disposed of. One day I email him in in frustration and so he send plumber out. Still pump wasn't fixed and instead the landlord said to me he wasn't going to fix it. Now this home is being foreclosed on and auctioned off on May 20, 2016. In agreement between landlord and us, we would be compensated for the repairs and the cleaning we did which we a need but
Submitted: 7 months ago.
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 7 months ago.
Dear Customer,I am sorry to learn of this situation. Given the nature of the current position - the landlord is losing the home to foreclosure and you are no longer going to be dealing with him as your landlord (so pursuing further repairs/uninhabitability remedies), you have a "breach of contract" issue.This is going to be a little more straightforward to deal with and gives you a little more clear cut course of action.You can simply send the landlord a demand letter and if they do not pay file a small claims suit to pursue him for a court judgment.(The Washington Courts have online information to walk you through it here: https://www.courts.wa.gov/newsinfo/resources/?altMenu=smal&fa=newsinfo_jury.Scc).Given that your landlord probably has some solvency issues, you can strategize how best to pursue your action. A breach of contract action (oral) has a 3 year statute, while a written contract is 6 years. So if you have an oral agreement for reimbursement from the landlord, you can wait up to 3 years from the date the landlord failed to reimburse you to sue them.This gives you some time to pursue the claim at a point when you believe you have the best chance of collecting against them. (I can't tell you when that would be as I have no way of knowing what their financial picture is, but you can try to identify things such as: other properties (including their primary residence), any business they may own, their employment (you can garnish wages), their bank account (do you know where they bank - you can levy bank accounts with a court judgment). And speculate on whether or not your landlord may or may not file for bankruptcy protection.
Customer: replied 7 months ago.
We were never compensated for the money spent out of my pockets to fix and clean this place up. I have signed lease, I haven't paid rent for last month nor this month, landlord has not sent me any written notices to vacate the premises due to non payment of rent. So what do I do? We have 3 kids ages 8, 5 & 1. What can I do?
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 7 months ago.
The legal issues here are going to be much more complicated, but the practical issues are not: If you aren't paying rent on the place, but you know that the property is going into foreclosure, you can expect that the property will be sold in the near future (how quickly depends on the way in which the trustee pursues the foreclosure, and prosecutes the sale). However, it is unlikely that the landlord is going to pursue the back rent, and if they do you can counter-claim against them for the failure to maintain the property in a "safe and habitable condition" (they breached the contract as well).So you may want to look at this as you are living in a place rent free and plan on having to move on short notice - so save the money that you would be paying in rent and place it towards moving to a new location (security deposit, first month's rent, moving costs, etc.).However, if you want to pursue legal remedies (above and beyond rent withholding) you can file a small claims action against your landlord and try to get them to fix the condition. This presents a problem when you are pursuing a landlord who is already insolvent as you are trying to enforce a claim against someone who is already broke (or at least isn't investing in the property that they are going to lose).