OLYMPIA — A Nevada property management firm must provide nearly $300,000 in refunds, direct payments and rent forgiveness to tenants in Snohomish, Pierce and Kitsap counties to resolve allegations the firm violated an emergency order barring evictions during the pandemic, the Attorney General’s Office announced Thursday.
The state filed suit April 20 against JRK Residential, whose properties include Carroll’s Creek Landing in Marysville and The Boulders at Puget Sound in Tacoma.
Attorney General Bob Ferguson accused the firm of issuing notices to pay or vacate to at least 14 tenants of The Boulders in violation of the eviction moratorium signed by Gov. Jay Inslee.
And the suit alleged company employees repeatedly phoned residents or attached notices to doors in its complexes — including the 290-unit Carroll’s Creek Landing — reminding tenants that rent was due, even though the governor’s order allows people to not pay if they are unable due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In all, JRK sent unfair, deceptive and harassing communications to 1,441 people, according to the legal filings.
Under a consent decree filed Wednesday in Pierce County Superior Court, the company must forgive April rent for the 14 tenants at The Boulders or offer refunds to those who paid.
JRK will also be required to pay out $246,900 to tenants who received harassing communications from the company. Of the total, $500 payments will be made to the 257 tenants who were behind on April rent at the time and $100 payments to 1,184 who were not behind on rent when they got letters from the company, according to the attorney general’s office.
And the company must waive or refund fees for tenants who need or choose to move out before their lease is up while the governor’s proclamation is in effect. Terms of the consent decree must still be approved by a judge.
The consent decree, which must still be approved by the court, also requires the company to pay $50,000 to cover the state’s legal fees and costs.
“JRK Residential knew about the governor’s proclamation, and ignored it,” Ferguson said in a statement. “This large, sophisticated corporation knew the law, and still threatened to evict tenants. This resolution makes those tenants whole.”
Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@herald net.com. Twitter: @dospueblos.