Victory! Solidarity stops deposit theft

Here is the story of our latest fight, in Alison’s words:

How I Won Justice from a Deadbeat Landlord
by Alison Goodman

In September 2010 I rented a mother-in-law apartment from a woman named Jacque. I was out of town and a friend checked out the apartment. There was no written agreement, and per Jacque’s request, I sent $400 to hold the place, since it would be a month before I moved in.

When I arrived in October, I found many problems: mold in the washing machine, the toilet didn’t work, the bathroom sink didn’t drain, the dishwasher was full of dirty dishes, the general condition was filthy, the bed was torture. I spent four hours cleaning, with new discoveries of worse conditions. Jacque’s ho-hum reaction to these problems did not inspire confidence.

I decided to move out, which was a tremendous hardship for me: packing everything back up, finding temporary lodging and finding a new place, with only a week before returning to work. I told Jacque why I was moving out and asked for my deposit. She agreed, but then ignored that agreement, along with all future attempts at contact.

Then I found Seattle Solidarity Network, who agreed to take on my fight. I was impressed with their levelheaded dialogue, democratic process and peaceful approach. The first action was the presentation of a written demand for the return of my desposit. I was deeply moved to see thirty people show up (!!) most of whom I’d never met. When I handed that letter to Jacque, knowing that Seattle Solidarity literally had my back, I felt brave and strong. Later when I expressed my gratitude, many said, “Injustice to you is injustice to me.”

Jacque ignored the demand letter and the fight escalated. We hung flyers and posters in her neighborhood, emailed her own promise-to-pay along with links to the law she was breaking, but to no avail. Finally we decided to use Jacque’s connection to a local shoe store as leverage. As an employee, she sells shoes for this store, via her own Ebay store. She’s also related to the owners. Ten members showed up in front of the shoe store and handed out flyers to passers-by.

The following day, we finally heard from Jacque. She sent three emails full of threats, name-calling, rewritten history, invention, hateful epithets, wrong presumptions, and self-incrimination.

Less than one week later I received a cashier’s check for $400.

Seattle Solidarity Network members tirelessly volunteer countless hours to help fellow workers and tenants who have felt the powerless sting of being ripped off by landlords and bosses. For some, the loss of that money is a real hardship. For others, the injustice is the bigger issue. Either way, Seattle Solidarity is there and growing fast. I’ve become involved and feel tremendous satisfaction in helping others, as I’’ve been helped.