UPDATE: Burien apartment complex without water for four days; Residents seeking help

Update: Sunday 5 p.m.

While the exact story is not clear in the water outage at the Cabana Royal Apartments in Burien, steps have now been taken to address the situation that left 32 residents without running water for more than four days.

Burien Mayor Jimmy Matta came to investigate (and served as an interpreter for the Spanish-speaking residents) and built owner Judi Rogers. She also owns two other adjacent apartment buildings The Lochnaw and Tall Firs. All bought in 1999).

Rogers apologized and even brought some water. After collecting some information from the residents, she put together a timeline of what happened, although some of it remained speculative.

On Wednesday, July 7, Rogers said: Water District 49 was working on the water pipes at the apartments. They temporarily shut off the water and turned it back on later. It has not yet been confirmed, but a leak occurred in a drain pipe from the Cabana Royal Apartments shortly after. The leak flooded an apartment, evicting the resident. A plumber was called by SUHRCO Residential Properties LLC or the onsite manager Claudia Montejano and apparently couldn’t get there until Saturday, July 10. He addressed the problem and claimed to have solved it. When he turned the water back on, he, Rogers and residents of the building said, another leak appeared. Then he shut off the water again. At that time, the residents of the building had been without water for several days. Rogers said she offered to let them use the “snake bib” at one of the other buildings and fill buckets. Which some did. Others had to stay home from work because they couldn’t shower. The word went out on social media and people started showing up with water in gallon jugs and crates of bottled water. But cooking, bathing and the toilet were actually all made difficult or impossible.

On Sunday afternoon, Rogers and Matta came by within 30 minutes of each other and spoke to the residents. Matta said he would have the city manager bring water and look at it differently, and said he would contact Water District 49 to get to the bottom of what happened. Rogers said she ordered Porta Potties. Two were delivered late on Sunday.

The end of the problem is not yet in sight. “This is the first thing we’ll discuss in the morning,” Matta said.

He urged residents to take notes of their expenses and said he would engage lawyers to clarify what the issues were on tenant rights, something that the city council of Burien tackled not so long ago.

Information for tenants in Burien can be found here on the page of the city of Burien.

torn area
The area where the leak originated has still not been fixed. Photo by Patrick Robinson
Cabana Royal
The Cabana Royal Apartments were built in 1967. The rent is about $833 for a bedroom. Photo by Patrick Robinson

bucket
Residents are forced to use buckets for the time being. Photo by Patrick Robinson

Judi Rogers
Building owner Judi Rogers took notes about what happened. Photo by Patrick Robinson

Original message:

The Cabana Royal Apartments in Burien have been without water for four days and the residents are having a hard time.

They ask neighbors and others to bring bottled water for drinking, cooking and bathing. The building has 34 units.

Under the Landlord/Renter Act, the owners of buildings could be judged contrary to the law. (See below), but charges must be filed, a case filed, evidence presented and a verdict made. Of course, the owners can be sued in a civil case if it comes down to it.

But based on Washington’s revised code, it is an offense to have residents without water for more than 24 hours.

The apartments are located at 411 Ambaum Blvd. SW.

A letter from SUHRCO Residential Property Managers LLC was posted at the building on July 9, stating:

“RE: EXCLUDE WATER NOTICE

WE HAVE TO REPAIR A MAJOR EMERGENCY PIPE AT CABANA ROYAL BUILDING AND WE ARE NOT SURE WHEN THE WATER WILL BE ON IT AGAIN.

Sorry for the inconvenience.

If you have any questions, feel free to call me at 206-244.6683.”

The message was repeated in Spanish and signed by Claudia Montejano, Property Manager.

According to neighbors of the building, the building manager had a sign on their door that read:

“Please don’t come to me for any apartment issues, this is not the office, office hours are 9am-5pm Monday to Friday, if you are a resident with an emergency you need to know the emergency number!!?

which was subsequently removed.

apartment manager sign

Built in 1967, the building is owned by FJJP Properties LLC in Bellevue, whose physical address is 177 107th Ave Ne Apt 2106, Bellevue WA 98004.

But calls to the Property Manager go unanswered and the building owner’s phone number is a non-working number.

Residents had to resort to bottled water and the kindness of strangers to use the toilet and bathe. People show up after hearing about it with gallon jugs and crates of drinking water.

Mayor Jimmy Matta van Burien has been informed of the situation and will be present today to review the situation.

The Washington State Tenants’ Union is now involved and Salvador Recinos shared this note which was sent to the management company.

“ATTENTION REQUEST REPAIR

Date: 7/10/2021

Name and address landlord:

Dear Burien Apartments Management:

This is to inform you that the rental building on,

15619 4th ave SW Suite 102 Burien, WA 98166,

that you manage and that I inhabit needs repairs for the following defects:

1._All the water is turned off, we need water for three days.__

The Washington Residential Landlord Tenant Act requires you to begin making repairs requested by me within one of these specific time periods:

1 Twenty-four (24) hours to restore the loss of hot or cold water, heat or electricity, or any condition that is life-threatening.

2 Seventy-two (72) hours when the defect deprives the tenant of the use of a refrigerator, stove and oven, or a large sanitary appliance supplied by the landlord.

3 Ten (10) days in all other cases.

A list of the landlord’s responsibilities required by law is attached. If the repairs are not completed within the applicable time frame, I intend to use the remedies provided by law.

Sincerely,

Salvador Recinos (He / Him / El)

Tenants Union of the State of Washington”

Under RCW Title 59, Chapter 59.18, Section 59.18.110

RCW 59.18.110

Failure of the landlord to perform his duties—Determination by court or arbitrator—Conviction against landlord for reduced rental value and repair costs—Enforcement of judgment—Reduction of rent under certain conditions.

(1) If a court or an arbitrator determines that:

(a) A landlord has failed to perform a duty or obligations imposed by RCW 59.18.060; and

(b) Reasonable time has elapsed for Lessor to rectify the defective condition upon notification to Lessor in accordance with RCW 59.18.070 or such other time as may be assigned by the court or arbitrator; the court or arbitrator may determine the reduction in the rental value of the property as a result of the defective condition and shall render a judgment against the lessor for rent paid in excess of this reduced rental value from the time of notice of such defect until such time as of the decision and any repair costs under RCW 59.18.100 for which no deduction has yet been made. Such decisions may be enforced as other judgments in court and are at the disposal of the tenant as set-off against existing or subsequent claims of the landlord.

The court or arbitrator may also authorize the lessee to make or contract further corrective repairs and the lessee may deduct the cost of such repairs from the rent, so long as the court determines a period within which the lessor may make such repairs before the renter may commence or contract for such repairs.

(2) The tenant is not obliged to pay rent in excess of the reduced rental value of the property until such defects have been remedied by the landlord or until the court or arbitrator determines otherwise.

Landlord—Breach of Duties—Message from Tenant—Content—Time Limits for Landlord Remedies.

If at any time during the rental period the landlord fails to perform the duties required by RCW, 59.18.060 or by the lease, in addition to seeking remedies determined by law, the tenant may provide written notice to the person designated in *RCW 59.18.060(14), or to the person collecting the rent, stating the property concerned, the owner’s name, if known, and the nature of the defective condition. The Lessor will take corrective action upon receipt of such notice by the Lessee as soon as possible, but no later than the following timeframes, except where circumstances are beyond the Lessor’s control:

(1) Not more than twenty-four hours, when the faulty condition deprives the tenant of hot or cold water, heat or electricity, or is immediately life-threatening;

(2) Not more than seventy-two hours, when the faulty condition deprives the tenant of the use of a refrigerator, stove and oven, or any important sanitary appliance supplied by the landlord; and

(3) In all other cases not more than ten days.

In any event, the burden is on the lessor to ensure that the repairs under this article are completed immediately. If the delivery is delayed due to circumstances beyond the control of the lessor, including the unavailability of financing, the lessor will remedy the defective condition as soon as possible.

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