Washington sues N. Idaho property management company for violating eviction moratorium
SPOKANE, Wash. — Washington is suing a Hayden-based property management company for reportedly violating Governor Jay Inslee’s Emergency Evictions Proclamation.
Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed the lawsuit on Thursday in Spokane County Superior Court.
The lawsuit claims Whitewater Creek violated the Evictions Proclamation and Consumer Protection Act by threatening to evict several residents of low-income housing complexes in Spokane County.
Emails obtained by the AG’s Office reportedly show Whitewater Creek personnel, at the direction of majority owner Maryann Prescott, verbally threatened at least four residents at properties it was responsible for.
Ferguson said Prescott wanted tenants to know they would be evicted for unpaid rent and/or fees as soon as courts reopened for eviction proceedings. According to the AG’s Office, these residents were also informed they would be responsible for unspecified legal fees associated with their evictions.
The threats reportedly came one month after Inslee’s eviction moratorium was well-known throughout the state and Whitewater Creek personnel did not disclose that the moratorium protected the residents from such action.
The AG’s Office received multiple complaints from tenants at Whitewater Creek properties.
According to Ferguson’s office, one tenant asked to make a partial payment or go on a repayment plan based on the federal stimulus payment she expected. Whitewater Creek reportedly told the single mother she would be evicted the day courts reopened if she did not pay the full balance she owed.
When the woman tried to contact the corporate office to dispute the threat and learn how much legal fees would be, she was reportedly informed she would be “charged with harassment” if she did not stop calling.
The AG’s Office sent a letter in May requesting Whitewater Creek notify all residents that the moratorium prohibits threats of eviction and comply. Ferguson said the company instead consistently and falsely denied that it threatened to evict anyone.
“Washingtonians are struggling, yet Whitewater Creek illegally threatened tenants with evictions in the middle of a pandemic,” Ferguson said. “They violated the clear text of the Governor’s emergency proclamation. Their actions were cruel, unacceptable and illegal. They will be held accountable.’
Whitewater Creek manages and owns 1,000 low-income housing units across 12 housing complexes in eastern Washington. According to the AG’s office, many of their properties were developed with millions of dollars in taxpayer funding in the form of tax-credit equity and tax-exempt notes authorized by the Washington State Housing Finance Commission.
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