Condo conversion fallout

watermarke.jpg4 days after we reported on another big Morgan Junction apartment building going condo, we have two updates. First, one of the outgoing (not by choice) tenants has been blogging about her experiences. Second, we heard from Michele Thomas, a West Seattle resident who works for the Tenants’ Union and has taken at least one call from someone caught up in this conversion; since this is far from the only building where tenants are getting/have gotten/will get the boot, she wanted to share some info…
Michele writes:

Seattle tenants facing condo conversion have the following rights:

  • Right to 90-day notice to vacate if on a month-to-month lease,
  • Landlords cannot terminate leases early and cannot force a tenant to leave before their lease it completed,
  • Tenants earning less than 80% of the AMI are entitled to $500.00 in relocation funds before they move out. The City of Seattle’s DPD office can verify eligibility: 206-684-7979,
  • During the 90-day notice period, tenants can only be evicted for three reasons: Failure to pay rent, disturbing other tenants’ peaceful enjoyment of the premises and damaging the property or creating a nuisance,
  • During the 90-day notice period, the landlord cannot change the rules or raise the rent,
  • Tenants also have the first right of refusal to purchase the unit and the developer must inform each tenant of this right,
  • During the 90 day notice, the tenant still has all their rights, including their right to be given 48 hours notice of each intent by a landlord or construction worker to enter their unit to do repairs or upgrades.

Tenants having problems enforcing these or other rights can call the Tenants Union’s free hotline at: 206-723-0500 or visit our website for more information at

These laws are important, but they are not good enough. The Tenants Union recommends that you call our State elected officials to tell them about your experiences. There will be serious efforts in the next legislative session to improve these laws and to better protect tenants and its important that our legislatures know that this is an important issue for you too.

14 Replies to "Condo conversion fallout"

  • DB August 31, 2007 (10:18 am)

    I would caution anyone against buying these condos unless serious renovations are made. Check out the info on this complex on to hear feedback on the thin walls, etc…..

    I also lived there for a year- and there was a serious leakage problem in the front windows that the management refused to fix. I was told that the only way to repair it was to pull of all of the siding from the entire building to make the repair and that there were no plans to do this. As a result, my apartment was full of mold- and I developed asthma as a direct result of living there in the mold.

  • Kristin August 31, 2007 (12:48 pm)

    Thank you for linking to my page, I’m interested in that first right of refusal…I don’t quite understand what that means…I’m still having a very hard time figuring out where I will live, I already signed that dotted line that I’ll be out on the 16th so, well, we’ll see what happens.

    Kristin / StrawberryTechMama…

  • Ron August 31, 2007 (4:16 pm)

    There are a few of us who are not moving out. I’ll be staying, I have 10 months left on my lease so there is just no way I want to pack up everything again, ask friends to help me move yet again.

    I like my little apartment. :)

  • Ron August 31, 2007 (10:48 pm)

    Basically it means you don’t *HAVE* to move out if you have a lease. This is where our manager failed us, I did pass on a copy of the tenant laws to her the other day. I made the mistake of looking at another apartment before I checked it out and I ended up putting down 100.00 bucks to hold another apartment (which I will not get back). Then I ended up talking with some friends and looking up the tenant laws. Then I checked out the permit for our building etc. So we are legally able to stay here for the remainder of our leases. I was contacted by another tenant and they are staying as well (in our building).

    So basically if you have a signed lease, you don’t need to move until after your lease has been completed. You didn’t sign a contract, you signed a slip of paper saying you’ll move out by such and such date.

    So if you want to stay, I would let our manager know. :)

  • Kristin September 1, 2007 (7:20 am)

    Yeah…wish I knew that at the beginning…with my 2yo I just really want stability more than anything, and I don’t feel it here anymore…I LOVE my apartment here, but that stability factor…that’s big.

  • Kristin September 1, 2007 (7:22 am)

    I really wish I could buy the condo my unit will be turned into honestly…

  • Sue September 1, 2007 (8:27 am)

    Kristin, believe it or not, you’re probably better off not buying it. I lived in West Ridge Park and left recently when they announced the condo conversion. We had hoped to buy ours, but I learned an awful lot about condo conversions since then. There are different standards for building for apartments vs. condos. When they gave us the right of first refusal and the inspection reports, I poured over them and was very surprised at the poor condition of the buildings, structural issues, etc. It was clear from the plans that the developer was going to do the very least they were mandated by law to do to fix them up and leave the rest. And when a conversion is done, the developer only has to warranty the work they did. If they put in a new cabinet, that’s warrantied, but if your walls fall down, then it’s not. Way too many risks for the money they ask, in my opinion. Sure, it could be different in your complex, but from all that I’ve read about numerous condo conversions in Seattle, I sincerely doubt it. Who is the management company doing your complex?
    I also think there will soon (next 2 years) be such an overload in the WS market of condos that I’ll be curious to see what happens to the prices. They offered us our 2 bedroom, 1000 sq. ft. townhouse at WRP for $292,000 and we turned it down. They estimated that the mortgage (30/yr fixed with 0% down), homeowners dues and taxes would cost us $2500/mo – our rent was $995. Not really a bargain in my opinion.

  • Ron September 1, 2007 (8:31 am)

    Yeah I feel the same way. Funny thing is one of the places I looked at told me straight up that that part of the complexes run by their management company have been switched over to condos and within the next couple years they’ll be going condo as well. This area is just so damn popular now!

    That was my incentive for wanting to move out but my laziness got the better of me. haha. :)

  • Sue September 1, 2007 (8:34 am)

    Some links that might be useful – a blog article about the difference between new construction and condo conversions: and an article on conversion rights from the DPD: and the Seattle Municipal Code on conversions:

  • Courtney September 1, 2007 (12:44 pm)

    We’re not moving either… We have 10 months left on our lease and I just got done unpacking (close enough anyway). We are, however, getting an attorney just in case things get ugly. For those of us that are staying, remember your rights per the Seattle Landlord-Tenant Law, during construction they have to maintain the premises as “safe, clean, secure”, so they can’t leave construction equipment (or whatever) blocking the garage, halls and walkways, etc.

  • Ron September 2, 2007 (2:24 pm)

    I have a friend who is a seattle attorney, So if I need any help I’ll go to him and see who he can recommend.

  • Kristin September 3, 2007 (10:02 am)

    …Yeah, we’re definitely out, signed papers for a 2br right on Alki on Saturday. I’m looking forward to moving, and just putting the condo craziness behind me.

    I thought there was something in the least that said even with a lease we only have 90 days if it is sold? All the best to all of you, we’ll be around for 2 more weeks while they get my new apartment ready. I’m the one with the toddler if you want to say hi ;-)


    PS…Ron, thanks, I’ve got attorney’s looking at my lease and all the paper’s I’ve gotten already.

  • Ron September 4, 2007 (7:34 am)

    Congrats Kristin, You’ll love it down there. I have a couple friends who live down there right now and it’s a blast. It helps that we’re all divers too I suppose. I’m hoping to find a place down there myself so I can be closer to my favorite dive site! :)

  • Kara September 17, 2007 (4:32 pm)

    I’m going through the same thing in Ballard…its happening all over the city. Epidemic Condoland!! I am currently working with tenanats and community members to save my apartment, but if that doesn’t happen we still want to bug legislation to chnage the laws…90 days and $500 dollars is a joke.
    Save Lock Vista would love to hear from people going through the same ordeal. Get more voices out there to make the laws change. We have talked and met with numerous city council members and district representatives.
    I’m staying at my place until my lease is up in April then I guess try to buy a small house because if this is happening everywhere I don’t want to move and move and move again and again.
    Well, my thoughts are with you guys!

Sorry, comment time is over.