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Seattle Times business reporter Elizabeth Rhodes posts the answers to your real estate questions as they pop up during the week. Join this ongoing discussion, which also features reader reaction to real-estate articles appearing throughout The Times.

Home Forum, Seattle Times, P.O. Box 1845, Seattle, WA 98111

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June 25, 2008 11:30 AM

Renter questions carpet cleaning requirement

Posted by Elizabeth Rhodes

Q: I am moving out of a large apartment complex in downtown Seattle, and I have recently been informed that I have to hire my own professional carpet cleaner upon vacating the apartment. There was no mention of this in my lease or when I moved in three years ago. Carpet cleaning seems like it should be covered under "everyday wear and tear," and not come out of my pocket. Do I need to comply with this new requirement?

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June 24, 2008 11:45 AM

Does creeping wetland get a tax break?

Posted by Elizabeth Rhodes

Q: My question is about paying property taxes on part of our Seattle backyard newly designated as "wetland" because of a creek running through our neighbor's yard. Over the years the "no build" area has grown from 15 feet from the creek to 50 feet. So now one third of our property is unbuildable. Shouldn't this entitle us to a tax break?

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June 18, 2008 11:30 AM

Does new reserve-study law cover town homes, co-ops?

Posted by Elizabeth Rhodes

Q: A new law requires condo associations to have reserve studies. Does it also apply to zero-lot-line town home communities and co-ops? Also, who does reserve studies and where can I find them?

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June 17, 2008 5:00 PM

Improvement plans worry cat-owning condo dweller

Posted by Elizabeth Rhodes

Q: My condo association hired a construction company to remove our doors and windows, install weather seals then replace everything. The company says it will attempt to contact us twice before construction and if they can't, construction will start anyway. I told the company it couldn't proceed unless I'm home because I'm concerned about my cats. They wouldn't agree. Are my civil rights being trampled? Do I need to get a restraining order?

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June 13, 2008 11:08 AM

Can landlord keep deposit, advance rent after tenant dies?

Posted by Elizabeth Rhodes

Q: When my father died May 2 he was renting a house in Anacortes. His rent was paid up for May. I flew out immediately from Tennessee, packed up my dad's stuff, and turned in the keys on June 1. The house was the best that I could do under the circumstances, although there were a few items left and things that needed to be done. I told the management company and let them know that I was going to need for them to take care of the rest.

My father's lease agreement is being waived, but management is keeping the security deposit, and until the maintenance and cleaner are paid for they are prorating the last month's rent that they're holding. They estimated the work will cost $700 to $900. The security deposit was $1,400.

How can they hold the security deposit? Can they charge June's rent when I've returned the keys? And are there any laws to help deceased renters?

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June 11, 2008 4:00 PM

Faulty home repair leaves owner in a quandary

Posted by Elizabeth Rhodes

Q: We hired a contractor to reconstruct some exterior stairs. That contractor's foreman hired a subcontractor to do the work. It's now complete but the city building inspector won't sign off because the work isn't up to code. The sub says he did the job based on the instructions he received from the foreman and won't do any more work until we pay him for what he's done so far. There's no written contract and the foreman quit. The contractor is advising me to work something out with the subcontractor or retain another contractor to complete the work. Am I obligated legally to pay the subcontractor for the work done? I'm concerned I'll pay $3,600 for "out of code" work, then have to pay again to get what I wanted in the first place.

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June 10, 2008 4:30 PM

Foreclosures lead to overgrown grass and HOA concerns

Posted by Elizabeth Rhodes

Q: Two homes in our neighborhood are in foreclosure and the owners have stopped maintaining their yards. This violates our homeowners association (HOA) covenants. Can our association require the banks that are foreclosing to maintain these yards until the homes are sold? If not, what can we do to bring the yards into compliance?

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Comments | Category: Condos and condo associations |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

June 10, 2008 4:24 PM

Reader questions property tax rise

Posted by Elizabeth Rhodes

Noting that King County home prices are declining yet his property taxes recently increased 10 percent, a Redmond reader asks:
"Could you please ask the King County assessor to explain himself?"

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June 2, 2008 3:56 PM

Readers respond to messy neighbor saga

Posted by Elizabeth Rhodes

A recent post, "messy homeowner has neighbors up in arms," drew response from readers who've dealt with similar situations. Here's how they handled this problem.

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Recent entries

Jun 25, 08 - 11:30 AM
Renter questions carpet cleaning requirement

Jun 24, 08 - 11:45 AM
Does creeping wetland get a tax break?

Jun 18, 08 - 11:30 AM
Does new reserve-study law cover town homes, co-ops?

Jun 17, 08 - 05:00 PM
Improvement plans worry cat-owning condo dweller

Jun 13, 08 - 11:08 AM
Can landlord keep deposit, advance rent after tenant dies?

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