Tiki tenants take their new influence to Olympia

Tiki tenants take their new influence to Olympia (PHOTO: KOMO News)

People facing evictions are bringing their tears and their fears to the state capitol pleading for help. Key lawmakers are calling for immediate action. Among those leading the charge are the people evicted from Tacoma's Tiki Apartments, who have new found strength.

"I'm in the best place right now," said former Tiki tenant Sarah Howe. "I could not be happier."

Howe is taking that happiness and trying to bring a smile to her new friend Chris Heer who is facing eviction from her Tacoma apartment at the end of the month..

"They never gave me any kind of 'just cause' or good reason," said Heer. "Nothing."

Howe said, "I don't know how they can do that. I just don't know how they can do that."

Howe is at the capitol with other tenants rights advocates to change the eviction laws capitalizing on their new found influence after getting the same treatment themselves.

This has been quite a journey for these people going all the way back to nearly a year ago when they were all facing eviction from the Tiki Apartments. But it was a legal eviction. They took their cause to City Hall and got the local law changed to give more notice.

And now state legislators want to help.

"That's why we've introduced legislation to protect the people of Washington from today's archaic and sometimes cruel eviction process," said state Rep. Nicole Macri, D-Seattle.

Along with a bill that would force landlords to give "just cause" there is a bill to extend to 21 days to pay rent instead of just three as is now the case. There is a bill to give 120 days notice if there is going to be a renovation or demolition. And a bill that a judge could be brought in for a review of a disputed case.

Some landlords have testified that these bills make it hard to get rid of troublesome tenants. Other landlords say that's not the case. "You can still rent, you can renovate, you can still do all of those things," said landlord Malakay Betor. "All they're asking for is when you do evict somebody you evict them for a reason."

But these laws may be too late for Heer who hasn't found an affordable place. "My thought is I may have to just put everything I own in storage and move into my car at the end of the month."

We've reached out to Heer's landlord for comment and have not heard back.

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