Gross: Nightmare tenant made Seattle landlord go homeless

29 July 2023

A Seattle landlord stated he’s now homeless after one of his tenants faked being low-income in order to avoid paying his rent. Making matters worse, the landlord says the tenant is actually turning a profit on the property by renting it out on Airbnb – and the city is doing nothing to help. 

Jason Roth said he bought his south Seattle home in 2016. A mechanic by trade, Roth loved spending time improving the building. He entertained the idea of leaving Seattle to pursue other career opportunities so it made sense to list the house as rental.  

Roth says he found a tenant who appeared responsible. But things changed on March 1 when he didn’t receive the first rental payment.  

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“I wasn’t mad. I just approached him and asked ‘What can you pay?’ and we took that route,” Roth told Jason Rantz on AM 770 KTTH. “He proposed to me what he could pay. And we did a formal agreement. I paid an attorney to read it up and he [still] couldn’t pay.”

That’s when Roth heard from a friend. To his surprise, he was informed that his rental property was listed as an Airbnb.  

“This is totally backwards,” Roth said. “This is totally not what we agreed upon.” 

Not only is the nightmare tenant not paying rent, but he’s also not paying utility bills that are in Roth’s name as the owner.  

“Because he’s claimed low income with the city. They won’t shut [utilities] off,” Roth said. “So I’m actually paying for there to be an Airbnb unit for him to make an income. I’m not exaggerating.” 

The nightmare tenant forced Roth to move into a van, which he modified using his mechanic’s skills.

“I consider myself lucky that I was able to build out a nice little camper van given the situation,” Roth said.  “But I’m embarrassed. This sucks. I am paying for this guy to live in this house.” 

The paradigm shift toward renters’ rights has created extra obstacles. Roth believes he has few advocates in the situation. He has hired an attorney to help him sort out what has become a nightmare.  

Roth said Airbnb support has been no help in the matter either.  

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“When I call Airbnb to try to explain this, you know, I’m not mad, I’m trying to be as calm as possible. I get a call center in another country, I get transferred to three different people and I get hung up on,” Roth said. 

Roth has also tried to get help from city officials. This has led him to be even more frustrated with the lack of help.  

Landlords get painted as evil in this city, maybe some are. However, Roth set out with an honest goal to provide an affordable rental property and he is getting burned because of it.  

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3 – 6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here

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