EXCLUSIVE: Deadbeat tenants owe landlords thousands as WA courts struggle with eviction backlog

"There is no law protecting the landlord, Justice delayed is justice denied."

A landlord in an upscale neighborhood in Washington state is out thousands of dollars as a result of a deadbeat tenant he can’t evict because of the county’s eviction backlog.

Jaskaran Singh owns a rental property he bought two years ago in Woodridge, one of Bellevue, Washington’s most desirable neighborhoods.

He thought Sang Kim, along with his wife and kids, were going to be ideal tenants, that is until the Kims allegedly started skipping out on rent.

Singh told Discovery Institute’s Senior Fellow Jonathan Choe that Kim “…got a new car, he's got (another) new car parked inside also."

He added, "He lied for everything. He's simply exploiting the system."  

Singh attempted mediation through the city, and when that failed, began the eviction process, which has now been dragging on for months.

One of the main issues causing the delays is that King County courts are behind on at least 600 eviction cases.

"There is no law protecting the landlord. Justice delayed is justice denied," says Singh. 

William Shadbolt, with the Washington Properties Association, told Choe, "Judges and commissioners in other counties like Kitsap are openly mocking King County." 

He added state law clearly shows eviction cases must be prioritized over other civil matters, and hearings must be granted within 30 days. "They should be clearing this backlog of eviction cases that they created."

Many of the cases are a result of municipal ordinances that deferred rent and prohibited evictions for tenants during the pandemic.

Shadbolt added that the system is broken and there is no accountability. "Somebody will file a lawsuit, that may force the issue," says Shadbolt.  

In a statement to The Ari Hoffman Show on Talk Radio 570 KVI, a spokesperson for King County Courts claimed, "This is due to a variety of reasons out of our control.  Legislative changes have led to lengthier hearings, defenses, and right to counsel." 

Meanwhile, Singh is losing out on thousands of dollars in rental income each month and still has to pay the mortgage and utilities on this expensive property. "I’m suffering while he's enjoying all the amenities.”

He told Hoffman, “I lost my job in the summer. Juggling my own mortgage and paying double mortgage for the tenant's house has become a considerable burden.”

Singh added, “I work two jobs to support my family and the tenant's family.”

“While my tenant enjoys a relaxed lifestyle, buys new cars, and celebrates [with] barbecues, I continue to struggle to pay my bills and double mortgages. Our tax dollars not only provide free legal support to my tenant but also pay his rent while he does little to contribute and seemingly manipulates the system.”

When Choe tried to get Kim’s side of the story, he claimed to be a Korean national who is just trying to make it in the US and that this is all a big misunderstanding.  "You know he’s been fabricating a story to the court so that's why I'm still here," said Kim.

He also accused Singh of harassment and “…not fixing anything."  

However, Kim couldn’t explain why he was so behind in the rent or say when he would come up with what was owed.

Kim referred Choe to his attorney at the King County Bar Association's housing justice project, which offers free legal help to low-income renters facing eviction. No one at the agency returned Choe’s requests for comment.

Singh believes that the pro-bono lawyers don’t properly vet their clients and are allowing unqualified people to mooch off the system.

Compass real estate agent Jani Spencer told Choe that Kim is a repeat offender. "He's done this more than once. " adding that Kim is “a con artist” and that he has done it at another property and her clients are still owed thousands of dollars in back rent.

Bellevue Deputy Mayor Jaren Nieuwenhuis said that there are other cases like this across the state because the system "…is heavily skewed in favor now in terms of supporting tenants. Unfortunately, word is out they can manipulate the system." 

Republican State Rep Andrew Barkis said he favors more legislation to protect mom-and-pop landlords.

"The state is getting crazy. The activists for the tenants have really set the agenda.”

Singh told Choe that he had lost faith in the legal system and that "Other landlords shouldn't be in the same situation.” He is also advising others to avoid renting out their properties in Washington State.
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