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Old 11-14-2007, 05:41 AM
 
7 posts, read 38,312 times
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Hi,

I live in Lake Forest Park. I'm French Canadian, I moved here to pursue a doctorate in music at UW. I've been renting this house for over a year, and I love the place. Today my landlord came up with the rent increase news.

In the month-to-month lease agreement that I've had for 14 months, all utilities were included. She is now wanting me to pay utilities, which mean oil payments of about $800 about twice a year for the heat, the landline which was included too before (I only use it for local calls), garbage, electricity, plus a rent increase of $100/month. I managed to talk her out of the garbage and electricity for now, but I still estimate the overall increase to be about 20 percent over the original agreement.

I've read that there is no rent control here, so I can't do anything about it? She mentioned some increase intentions back in September, but the real figures were only spoken today (I never thought it would be so dramatic), and she didn't give me anything in writing yet. I think she is expecting me to pay the new price on December 1st. I've read that I should get a 60-day notice, for an increase over 10%, is that right? Please let me know if there is anything else that I need to know, or anything that may help.

I don't have to mention the nightmare for a student with such a change in the budget, the fear of having to move out, not to mention the troubles of moving a grandpiano and finding a suitable practicing space.

Thank you very much for your help,

Francou
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Old 11-14-2007, 10:51 AM
 
Location: The Great State of Texas, Finally!
5,389 posts, read 11,521,050 times
Reputation: 2560
This seems so ironic, seeing the Canadian dollar is so strong agaist US currency these days. Yet, being a student is difficult and I understand about budgeting, regardless of the country. I would get some clarification from your landlord: when do these "new rates" go into effect? I would want to see something in writing. I also think that if these increases break the budget, then moving would be wise.

I do not think there is rent control in this state. I had my rent raised considerably last year when my life circumstances dictated that my lease go from annual to monthly. The landlords took advantage of my "monthly" status and continued to increase my rent every few months. I also know there is no control regarding security deposit caps in this state. I too have a piano, although it is an upright, so I was concerned about securing a new place to live, moving the piano and all the associated pains that go with that.

Do a bit of online research--I know there are sites regardling state laws---so when you approach your landlord, she knows she can't ride roughshod over you.

Best to you
Cobolt
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Old 11-14-2007, 10:58 AM
 
5,594 posts, read 18,267,050 times
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Colbolt has given some good advice.

Here is a good resource:

The Tenants Union of Washington State ...this page regarding rent increases.

The City of Seattle's reference pages pertaining to renting:

Seattle.gov - Housing and Neighborhoods - Renting
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Old 11-14-2007, 11:35 AM
 
Location: The Great State of Texas, Finally!
5,389 posts, read 11,521,050 times
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Thanks Sir,

I remember visiting informational sites last year when I was going through the repeated rent increases, but I couldn't recall any of the sites by memory.

Cobolt
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Old 11-14-2007, 12:05 PM
 
3,699 posts, read 10,821,380 times
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Are you renting an entire house by yourself? If so, then you should be paying all of the utilities since you are the one using them. I don't think you can factor in the cost of utilities in the percentage of the rent increase, since those aren't rent.

If you want to live in a house by yourself, it isn't realistic to expect the landlord to cover the ever-increasing costs of utilities. That $800 oil bill is likely to be closer to a $1000 this winter, if not higher. Utilities for houses are a lot more expensive than utilities for apartments.

You were very, very lucky to find a landlord that was going to pay for all of the utilities you used, but they can't afford to subsidize you any more. If you really want to stay there, maybe it's time to look for a roommate. Or to reduce your utility costs by taking two minute showers and setting your thermostat to 60 when you aren't home, like property owners do when they are facing these kinds of problems.
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Old 11-14-2007, 03:31 PM
 
7 posts, read 38,312 times
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Hello, thanks for the links and for the replies!

To reply to Sean, yes, I am renting an entire house by myself; I know that I was lucky to have this situation, with a lease agreement that said all utilities included. The utilities aren't just me though, the landlord owns these two little house that she rents and the electricity meter is together with the house next to mine, where this person would use, I estimate, at least 3-4 times more electricity than I do (having electricity heat while I have oil, doing laundry twice a day when I do it hardly once a week, I don't have TV, I cook very little, etc).

I guess I was just lucky to have the utilities included in the agreement; but probably the one being unrealistic was my landlord, in the first place. The reason why I moved here is because of the price and the conditions, which overall fitted my budget. Also, I know that utilities aren't rent, but they were in my lease agreement, so it is considered in the costs. I've read in those links, that any changes in the fees within the agreement are considered in the increase. And the fact is, that anyone facing a 20 percent increase in their cost of living all of a sudden, would be in a state of shock -- especially a student...

My situation is also very particular, being a concertpianist, and being a full-time doctorate student, and working too; I am so busy, that I have hardly time to sleep, being at the university for classes and work all day, getting home late and having to study and practice late, often until 4am if not more. This is why I need a house -- with no immediate neighbors, nor roommate, who would be quite unhappy with loud piano playing all night! I also have to keep the heat constant in the house, I keep it all the time at 68, because if the temperature is unstable, the piano will go out of tune -- and a tuning is over a 100 dollars everytime.

Anyway, I guess I'm just feeling sorry for myself, and maybe trying to get some sympathy :-)

Thanks for your help,

Francou
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Old 11-14-2007, 04:22 PM
 
Location: The Great State of Texas, Finally!
5,389 posts, read 11,521,050 times
Reputation: 2560
Sounds to me like your living set up is ideal for the lifestyle your studies dictate. Are the other tenants in the houses having to pay a comparable increase in their utilities as well? I would certainly think if their utility use is higher, then the division of the bill should reflect as much. Is there a way you can sit down with all parties involved and come to some conclusion? This may seem optimistic, I know. When I was renting a garage apartment while attending college, its utilities ran on the same meter as the front house. I was gone much of the day and my living space along with my utility usage was smaller. So we agreed that I would pay 1/3 of the utilities, not to exceed x amount of dollars. Sometimes a simple discussion could clear up alot, especially if your landlord is reasonable and doesn't take advantage of the system.
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Old 11-14-2007, 05:51 PM
 
Location: Cosmic Consciousness
3,871 posts, read 16,337,460 times
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Francou, the writers here have given you fabulous, practical, and realistic advice. I just wanted to add that the basic reason for so much increase in everything is because your landlord is facing similar increases in her costs, and she is, correctly, passing those increases along. Other rental situations are facing similar problems. And no, there is no rent control whatsoever in Washington state.
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Old 11-14-2007, 05:53 PM
 
Location: Cosmic Consciousness
3,871 posts, read 16,337,460 times
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Correction -- "rent control" exists only when a renter has a lease stating x amount of rent per month, each month, for a period of time, usually a year, after which the rent can be increased but not before. But a month-to-month lease has no such controls.
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Old 11-14-2007, 06:23 PM
 
27,839 posts, read 59,019,752 times
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Default Taxes go up... rent increases to follow.

Quote:
Originally Posted by allforcats View Post
Francou, the writers here have given you fabulous, practical, and realistic advice. I just wanted to add that the basic reason for so much increase in everything is because your landlord is facing similar increases in her costs, and she is, correctly, passing those increases along. Other rental situations are facing similar problems. And no, there is no rent control whatsoever in Washington state.
I know several property owners have put off increasing rents or are holding the line on rent pending the outcome of the School Levy vote and Initiative 747.

As you know, the School Levy Constitutional Amendment has passed and now only requires a simple majority to increase taxes for schools. Schools take the largest share of the property taxes I pay.

Initiative 747, which limited property tax increases was also overturned. All property owners I know have received huge assessment value increases... the average in Thurston County is 30% in one year. Mine went up 80%.

Rising costs are a real problem. Even with rent control, owners are generally allowed to pass through hard costs such as taxes...

I predict across the board rent increases.... Can you lock in your rent by signing a lease?

I would be wary of paying for utilities that are shared by others... it's akin to signing a blank check...
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