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An eviction on 12th Ave leaves woman’s possessions on the street

As soon as her property hit the sidewalk, there were what seemed like crews of junk pickers digging through on the hunt for useful items. By Friday afternoon at 12th and Howell outside the Alyward Apartments, there were still valuables to be had including a rolling suitcase and random electronics. But the futon frame and mattress along with piles of soggy garbage seemed likely to go unclaimed.

The 12th Ave mess was the result of an eviction this week at the Alyward, a person with knowledge of the situation tells CHS. A woman who lived in the building struggled through the eviction notice process and by the point it was time for the King County Sheriff to arrive, the resident was apparently in no shape to deal with her possessions.

A department spokesperson said she was still gathering information on the eviction but, in general, the process requires days of notification so tenants have time to make plans for their property. This timeline from the Tenants Union explains the process and timing.

We are asking the sheriff for more details on this eviction and policies around the removal of property if a tenant is unable to adequately respond to the situation. We are also asking the building’s owner for more information about the situation.

Meanwhile, according to the city’s illegal dumping records, the 12th and Howell location is not yet on the report investigation list. You can see recent reports and status here. Clean-up won’t come quickly. SPU says reports will be “resolved in 10 business days.”

UPDATE 2/13/17 9:33 AM: We’re hoping to learn more from the Sheriff soon but wanted to include information from comments here in the main report. To give you a sense of the timeline in which these processes play out, a complaint filing of unlawful detainer — basically, the legal filing for a landlord to begin eviction proceedings for a tenant who owes rent or is otherwise in violation of a lease — was filed with the court on January 17th. According to the filing, the tenant owed $650 for a unit in the building with a rent of $1,050 a month or $35 per day. The document says the tenant was given a notice to pay rent or vacation on December 22nd. The writ of restitution directing the sheriff to remove the tenant and her possessions was signed by Commissioner Henry Judson on January 27th.

UPDATE 2/15/17 12:45 PM: A spokesperson for the King County Sheriff tells CHS that the detective on this eviction case described the tenant as “coherent and emotionally in control” during the process of removing her property from the apartment:

We served a copy of the notice to the tenant, along with the writ, on 2/1/17. This notice tells them what to expect with regard to their personal property. Our eviction data form asks if the tenants/occupants have any disabilities which was not indicated.

Per the detective that handled the eviction…The property manager did not inform him that there were any disabilities or that the tenant was suffering any mental crisis.

In fact, the tenant was present during the eviction. She was calm and coherent and did not display any unusual emotions or signs of being in mental crisis. The detective spoke to her in length about the eviction process and she responded appropriately.

As her personal property was being placed on the sidewalk area, she calmly collected it and walked it across the street to the nearby Public Storage facility.

“If she had requested storage, or had a physical disability, then her property would have to be stored. If she was incapacitated because of hospitalization or imprisonment, then her property would be stored,” the spokesperson said. “Depending on the severity of any possible mental illness, her property may be stored, as well,” the Sheriff rep writes.

The situation falls under state law RCW 59.18.312 (1):

“If the landlord knows that the tenant is a person with a disability as defined in RCW49.60.040 (as amended by chapter 317, Laws of 2007) and the disability impairs or prevents the tenant or the tenant’s representative from making a written request for storage, it must be presumed that the tenant has requested the storage of the property as provided in this section unless the tenant objects in writing”

Additionally if a tenant is suffering from severe mental crisis, “the detective would have had the King County Mental Health professionals out to evaluate her,” or if necessary, he would have had her involuntarily evaluated at Harborview, the spokesperson said.

Thanks to the King County Sheriff for providing more insight on the situation.


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29 thoughts on “An eviction on 12th Ave leaves woman’s possessions on the street

  1. The tenants belongings must remain available for pickup for a minimum of 48 hours before they can be removed. However, the evictor is not responsible for the security of the evicteds belongings. Generally the evictor is responsible for the cleanup. So it isn’t illegal dumping yet.

    • The landlord must store the property until sold or disposed of following appropriate notice to you of the proposed sale. Full law: RCW 59.18.312.

      This specific subsection leads one to believe that the landlord must keep the stuff for 30 days as long as the tenant tells the landlord in writing that they can’t immediately move their property:

      “(3) Prior to the sale of property stored pursuant to this section with a cumulative value of over two hundred fifty dollars, the landlord shall notify the tenant of the pending sale. After thirty days from the date the notice of the sale is mailed or personally delivered to the tenant’s last known address, the landlord may sell the property, including personal papers, family pictures, and keepsakes, and dispose of any property not sold.”

      Justin, I believe you can check court records to see when the eviction was processed. The haphazard way that they just tossed everything on the sidewalk makes me skeptical in this situation.

    • Section 1 of the referenced Code says, in part,

      “The landlord must store the property if the tenant serves a written request to do so on the landlord or the landlord’s representative by any of the methods described in RCW 59.18.365 no later than three days after service of the writ. A landlord may elect to store the property without such a request unless the tenant or the tenant’s representative objects to the storage of the property.”

      So it appears that storage is _required_ only by a written request by the tenant.

    • Jay H is correct. The relevant case is King County Case No. 17-2-00605-0. The Judgment was issued on 1/27/17. The Writ (the instrument that directs the sheriff to carry out the judge’s order) was likely served on 1/30/17. This means the woman had nearly 2 weeks to move out before the sheriff got there. When the Writ is served, the tenant is also given a storage request form. She could have filled that out to get her landlord to store the items. She didn’t do that. If she didn’t fill out the form, the landlord is not required to store the items.
      And if you look at the court record, this process started on December 22, 2016 when she didn’t pay more than half the rent owing for December. This also means the landlord didn’t get rent for January either.
      So while evictions are unfortunate, there are steps the tenant can take to help herself.

      • Thanks for the legwork. This leaves open a few issues including helping somebody in this situation who might be suffering a crisis. These piles are already a tragic part of the city landscape. Learning more about how this one happened has been illuminating.

    • Agreed. The poor woman was already in deep trouble by being unable to pay her rent. Now her things are scattered to the wind. It’s truly sad. I was in the same situation in a tiny apartment on the hill in 1982. Hospitalized long enough to lose my job and terrified every time someone knocked on the door. When I was evicted the landlord held my things in storage for 6 weeks. My grandmother’s dolls, the book my grandfather wrote, my dad’s Marine Corps plaque. I’m very grateful to have not had my belongings dumped on the street like this. Someone who knows this woman should start a gofundme!

  2. It seems like a great opportunity for someone (the city? the tenants union?) to provide an emergency service offering short-term storage to evicted tenants by coordinating with local self-storage places to offer pro-bono service in otherwise unoccupied storage units.

    I doubt it would be sustainable on the part of the storage places themselves, due to the risk and cost of going through an eviction/liquidation process for anything that went unclaimed. But if some middleman agency were able to absolve them of the risk, I bet you’d find people willing to offer the space.

    And in the end, I suspect it could even be cost saving, if it can intervene to prevent people already struggling from ending up in the streets or otherwise falling farther and using even more expensive services.

    • This is a wonderful idea! How about reaching out to the tenant’s union, or similar organizations? I think the two largest hurdles will be transportation and labor, and perhaps space (I don’t know how often storage companies have vacant space.)

  3. The King County Housing Justice Project has volunteer attorneys who help tenants facing eviction. They will help in any stage in between a Notice to Pay or Vacate being served up until the court hearing, and sometimes after the court hearing depending on the situation. Wherever possible, they help tenants negotiate payment plans if possible, or negotiate for more time to allow the tenant to find housing. If no agreement can be reached, they represent the tenant during the court hearing. The tenant could have gone to them at any point in the process, but it doesn’t seem like she did.

  4. Consequences when you don’t pay your rent. These don’t happen overnight and without warning. Sucks that it happens but people need to take responsibility.

    And vultures who pick through the contents of another person’s life are the lowest of life.

    • Ever lost a job Timmy? It happens to responsible people, and sometimes it puts you on a spiral. I’m sure this person didn’t decide, out of the blue, to stop paying the rent. Some things are out of our control.

    • Yep, I have.

      Not paying rent is within a persons control. They have to take responsibility for their actions and inactions. Doubt the landlord came in 1 day after rent was late and cleared the place out.

      This person is either lazy or has serious mental issues. Its clear they didn’t seek help.

    • No, it wasn’t one day, it was two months. I’m guessing she had no other place to go. I’ve been evicted before, and the landlord isn’t under any obligation to present you with your rights. With no income and no emergency fund, your options are very limited. I’ve had friends and family to help out. This woman wasn’t so lucky.

  5. Some asshole (maybe landlord?) posted the eviction pile on Craigslist’s free section, too. Doesn’t appear to be there anymore.

  6. Statement from Computer Love (as we’ve been asked non stop):

    We had nothing to do with the mess out back. I can personally attest to honesty and fairness of this building’s owners and the tenet was given proper legal notice and was in fact served her eviction papers by the Sheriff on Thursday morning at which point she threw all her stuff outside in bags and the landlord was forced to pay workers to remove the rest of her junk. I personally moved bags of trash out of the sidewalk so pedestrians could walk that she threw in the middle.
    I am all for tenet’s rights but this situation was 100% the fault of the tenet and has nothing to do with gentrification. I have some other stories I’d share about the tenet but let’s just say there is a reason some people continually ask “why does bad stuff keep happening to me”.

  7. My guess is someone in mental decline who couldn’t make rational decisions, or drug and alcohol crisis. It sounds like there are resources that are available, but this person was unaware or unable to utilize these resources. I wonder if there is a motion for someone to help and take over their affairs?

    It breaks my heart thinking we’ll have another person in crisis on our streets, and without knowing more, I’m hesitant to lay blame on anybody.

    JSeattle, maybe a permanent post on how we can help those in crisis?

  8. I understand evictions have to happen. I got my 1st apt on the Hill because the prev tenant didn’t pay the rent. But just dumping their stuff is cruel. If the landlord wasn’t going to store it, they should’ve taken it to the dump.

    And we don’t know all the circumstances. I lived in a bldg where a tenant got seriously ill, and the spiral kicked in. He was too sick to work, so he lost his job, and so lost his health insurance. He was never well again, and there were times when he struggled to pay the rent. Not sure how he worked it out w/the owners, but mgmt never did evict him.

  9. It’s ok. The city will pay to store everything, inventory it then take on the cost to return it to the owner. Maybe the Mayor can store it in his garage??? He likes piles of crap like this all over the city.

  10. If the woman is mentally ill and/or has active addiction issues, I can empathize with her. While her eviction was pending, it would have been nice if a friend or family member would have intervened, if someone was available for this.

    If, on the other hand, she was just being irresponsible, then I have no empathy at all. I’m sure she had plenty of notice to get her act together and work out a payment plan with the landlord.

    • What if the woman just lost her job and is struggling to find a new one? I lost my job at the end of last year and it’s been very frustrating trying to find a new job. This is my biggest fear. I walked by this yesterday and it made my heart sink. Whoever she is, no matter what her reasons are, drugs, irresponsibilty, mental disorder, or lack of funds, i hope she gets help. she needs it.

  11. Ugh. I lived in that building when I first moved to Seattle over 20 years ago. It was a total dump even back then, and I can say that this was not an uncommon occurrence.

    • Hey inthe206! I used to live there too around 1995/96. My memory isn’t like yours though, I loved the building and my neighbors. Many of us were good friends and I don’t ever recall anything bad really happening there- definitely no one’s belongings ended up on the sidewalk regularly as you imply. The building was not a dump at all. Did you move here from Beverly Hills or something? j/k. I was in the 2nd floor unit on the south east side of the building. You?

  12. If this is a case where the tenant wasn’t mentally capable to handle the legal process there should be responsibility of society to figure it out and get them assistance. It’s not one persons fault that they don’t have the mental faculties that others are blessed to have. I’m pretty lucky to have my life together but I know others don’t. There should be organizations and structure to help them as they fall. It’s funny because the new Education Secretary just took down the website for legal information to help kids with disabilities. I think its an old animal instinct of a society to throw out the poor and disabled because they can’t care for themselves or contribute to society. But as a modern society we need to be higher thinking than our basic animal society instincts. We’ll see how everything rolls out as we start rolling back 8 years of work.