(NewsReady.com) – A Seattle man is being forced to live in his van while his unwanted tenant profits from his home through Airbnb. He’s trying to get help through the courts, but huge backlogs mean he could be waiting until well into the winter. Meanwhile, his tenant, who owes him thousands of dollars in unpaid bills, is getting free legal representation.
In 2016, Washington resident Jason Roth bought a house in Seattle’s Rainier Valley neighborhood and started fixing it up. To help pay for renovations, he rented out rooms to friends, saying it was “always a positive experience.” It isn’t so positive now, though. Roth is an apprentice aircraft mechanic, but his dream is to be a pilot — and that means flying lessons, which cost money. This March, he moved into a small apartment with his dog, then rented out his entire house to help pay for his training.
Unfortunately, that’s where it all went wrong. The tenant moved in but didn’t pay for the house; he now owes Roth close to $33,500 in rent, utilities, and late fees. Meanwhile, he applied for a rental license on the house’s basement apartment and was leasing it out on Airbnb for $150 a night until Roth got the city to pull the license.
Now, with bills stacking up, Roth can’t afford his apartment anymore. He and his dog are living in his van while his friends are running a GoFundMe to pay his legal expenses as he fights to get his house back. That isn’t a worry for his deadbeat tenant, who’s been assigned a free attorney by the local bar association’s Housing Justice Project.
Roth is warning that, unless the local government does more to protect landlords from predatory tenants, the supply of rental housing could dry up. He says he’s been “reached out to by plenty of people who have units available who are afraid to rent them” — and it’s easy to see why.
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