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Washington state, not Seattle.

I'll start by saying that the situation isn't ideal. It's an efficiency apartment in the basement of my girlfriend co-workers house. Prior to us living there the space was used as an office and work space for a dog grooming business (there is a very small bedroom, bathroom, shower and another room kept constantly locked because they're growing pot in it, supposedly legally.) We are not allowed to have anything in the main entry way because they still come down frequently to tend their marijuana plants and occasionally wash dogs. The lease is for a set duration of time (through the end of July).

They did not provide us with a copy of the lease agreement, although we asked, and my understanding is that any part of a lease that violates tenant law is unenforceable.

From memory, I recall the lease stating that they may enter the unit whenever they wish with or without notice, that although they are permitting us to have our 2 cats, in situations where they need to use the unit for dog washing, the cats are to be confined to the small bedroom. Also that they may, at any point, with our without cause, terminate the lease, at which point we must vacate within 5 days.

The "landlord" isn't exactly the nicest of people, and the floor/ceiling is extremely thin, so every small noise from the main house is heard in our living area, yet we're expected to stay extremely quiet. We constantly hear him shouting and swearing at his young (10 or 11 year old) son and his two large dogs sound like elephants walking around above us.

To put the icing on the cake, today I came home and was immediately greeted with anger because I left the bedroom door open for the cats and they needed to wash a dog, something they told me they were going to do yesterday. While I was trying to apologize for the misunderstanding, the landlord lost his temper, swearing and shouting at me to "shut my f***** mouth", then proceeded to threaten to "knock my b**** a** out" and ended by telling me that I needed to "get the f*** out, but my girlfriend could stay". Through all of this, I was denied entry to my living area because the landlord's girlfriend was washing a large and unfriendly dog.

I'm very sorry for the long winded post. I will update once I get a copy of the lease that we didn't have a choice but to sign, for fear of not having a place to live. What I really want to know is how much of this is cause for me to go for a legal approach? As far as the growing marijuana, this is Washington and he claims that he has his medical growing license, but also consistently demonstrates fear of drawing attention to the house, the reason being that he's growing pot.

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    You need a lawyer, not an internet Q&A. Good luck. VTC. – Nij May 1 '17 at 5:12
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The landlord may be confused about what is legal. Growing pot without a license (they do not have one: it cannot be grown at home, and certainly not if there is a minor present) is not legal, not even in Seattle (medical marijuana now requires a general marijuana license, and home-grown is not legal – some Dept. of Health pages don't reflect the new law).

Under RCW 59.18.065, the landlord must provide a copy of the executed agreement to each tenant, and a replacement copy on request. Under RCW 59.18.150, the landlord may enter the unit in case of an emergency, and otherwise

shall give the tenant at least two days' written notice of his or her intent to enter and shall enter only at reasonable times. The notice must state the exact time and date or dates of entry or specify a period of time during that date or dates in which the entry will occur, in which case the notice must specify the earliest and latest possible times of entry. The notice must also specify the telephone number to which the tenant may communicate any objection or request to reschedule the entry. The tenant shall not unreasonably withhold consent to the landlord to enter the dwelling unit at a specified time where the landlord has given at least one day's notice of intent to enter to exhibit the dwelling unit to prospective or actual purchasers or tenants

A lease cannot be terminated without cause and a legal process (eviction hearing), rather, it runs out at a specific time (the end of July). The situation with dog-washing is unclear, since normally a landlord can't decide to use a person's apartment for a dog-washing operation (the common law right to quiet enjoyment). If there is such a clause in the lease then that would be allowed, but they can't now decide that they have this right (the terms of a lease can't be changed in the middle). They can restrict the cats from areas outside your unit. You may however have some (legal) misunderstanding about what exactly "your unit" is, specifically, is the dog wash part of a "common area" that isn't actually part of what you have an exclusive right to.

  • To my memory, the lease states that we will have use of "the efficiency apartment". I don't think it specifies certain areas to be considered common area. I consider the entry area as part of the apartment, since the bedroom door is immediately in front of the entry door, and the shower is in the corner of the entry area. The lease might say that they have the right to use that area whenever they wish, but they've also entered our bedroom in order to move stuff out from the entry area. – HaLo2FrEeEk May 1 '17 at 0:30
  • As far as the lease termination, is that true even if the lease says that they can terminate the lease at any time and we have 5 days to vacate? – HaLo2FrEeEk May 1 '17 at 0:31
  • If the lease says that you have the place until the end of July, they can't terminate it before then. If they say you can have it on a monthly basis, up to July, then a different law is relevant, but they have to give you 20 days notice to terminate and certainly can never terminate before the end of the paid-up period (even with a refund). Depending on your county, the local Bar Association may provide free legal guidance. – user6726 May 1 '17 at 0:41
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    It seems to me that since you don't have a copy of the lease, you can basically do what you want until the landlord takes you to court. If he claims you're doing something against the lease, or if he wants to evict you, which it seems he does, he has to take you to court. He probably doesn't want to do that because it's unlikely to go in his favor. Among other things, he will at that point, if not before, have to give you a copy of the lease. If he realizes this, he may just continue with idle threats, in which case you might want to take him to court. Either way, you'll want a lawyer. – phoog May 1 '17 at 15:17
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    Legally speaking, not having a lease does not change tenants rights and responsibilities. Physically throwing you or your stuff out is a crime: only the sheriff, acting on a court order, can do that. It's entirely possible that the landlord has no knowledge of the relevant laws and thinks that since he owns the place, he can do anything he wants. – user6726 May 1 '17 at 17:23

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