This blog entry on July 4th, the American day of Independence, was going to be about how hard it is to find a decent roommate when you are being real estate mobbed, even when you try to get roommates who are interested in tenants’ rights and offer a good deal with low move-in costs. The sad thing is that when people are looking for housing, they don’t always represent themselves or their needs accurately. And if you set easy terms, I’ve disappointingly found that you can expect them to be abused by people who don’t believe what is happening to you, don’t listen, or don’t care, not even about the type of crime that affects those who rent as a class. When you’re being victimized by criminal neighborhood watches and real estate speculators who construct their crimes to be difficult to detect and report, you need to take care not to make it too easy for people who aren’t being honest with you about their intentions or even about whether they can pay the rent, or you risk being victimized by the roommates you take as you try to survive and keep your home. This blog entry has ended up being more about how victims of real estate mobbing who seek help can be victimized by businesses, but I’ll soon follow with one on the difficulty of finding good roommates while surviving in a development-related harassment situation. The important thing to note is that the real estate mobbers and their friends should be held accountable for the losses, damages, and endangerment that their victims suffer at the hands of those who take advantage of their compromised situations.
Victims of mobbing who attempt to fight the criminal forced eviction are vulnerable to further victimization by those from whom they seek help or protection. After more than two years of living in a situation of being real estate mobbed here in this rapidly gentrifying neighborhood of northeast Seattle, I can tell you that when you seek help, telling those who provide services like private investigation, attorney services, and even Seattle Police Department, you will pay a price. One of the most unfortunate things about being the victim of a crime that is little known and of long duration like real estate mobbing, is that it makes you a good target for further scams and crimes or even just for blame in a bullying situation that is often referred to as “victim-blaming.”
Victimization invites further victimization from people who prey on those who are vulnerable. This is unfortunately but especially true if you are a middle-aged single woman because of the failure to comprehend women as human beings, even highly intelligent ones, and to see what they’re made of. This failure likely made those real estate mobbing me think that forcibly evicting me from my legal home would be a cakewalk.
One of my first experiences with throwing my money away trying to get help was with a local private investigator from the small city just above Seattle’s “north end” of Shoreline, Washington.
I hired the private investigator to help me with the public disclosure process when my requests to the City of Seattle for disclosure were diverted for review by apparent legal staff. The investigator advertised himself as former law enforcement offering services including public disclosures.
What did I know? I’d never hired a private investigator before but hoped for assistance in obtaining information about the dozens of parking complaints that had been lodged against vehicles of mine that were parked legally and in keeping with the customs of my neighborhood.
Moreover, it had become clear that what had initially seemed a one-woman bullying situation at the hands of the nasty co-captain across the street had now bizarrely mushroomed into a threatening neighborhood brouhaha pitting a lot of people I’d barely or never met against me, including a builder and his crew as well as the single male home owners on either side of me and their packs of family and friends.
I believed, and suppose I still do, in justice. I wasn’t going to be scared out of my home and I didn’t appreciate the false and nuisance complaints to the city that had already accrued on numerous fronts.
The investigator I retained to help with the public disclosure requests was keenly interested in who the people were around me. Like numerous of the people I’ve hired from time to time when I’ve scraped together the cash in my attempts to get help during the past three plus years, he was condescending to me but took my money. Funny how that works.
The private investigator called me about a week later. He claimed to have been contacted by an attorney for one of “the home owners.” The “attorney” usually in evidence is the scumbucket school chum of the south mobbing house owner, a snarky BMW-driving thirty-something who has since “represented” both the south house owner and the nasty neighborhood watch woman in court. Note that “the home owners” would have had to know who this “dick” was to contact him, if in fact that was how it proceeded. My contacts with him transpired over the Internet or on the telephone. At that time, I used a cordless phone that I discarded soon after the mobbing began and the voices of the owner of the south mobbing house, his girlfriend and their friends began to turn up on my line whenever I picked up the handset, in the early months gabbing and giggling about a “party line.”
The “home owners,” said the private investigator, were all moving to file lawsuits against me for damages including property valuation. These included the same “home owners” who in court last year complained they would be unable to have children if I continued to live next door.
The “home owners” would sue if I did not remove my security cameras from my home, he said, because these legal security cameras were “harassing” the “home owners.”
I had carefully installed those security cameras to meet legal codes after my car was vandalized in broad daylight, probably by the pill-popping woman squatting down the street in the house of her deceased alcoholic boyfriend. She was pretty obviously in cahoots with the nasty neighborhood watch lady and the builder working across the street and seemed to be being used by the pair of them to intimidate me. This was before the criminal harassment began into the house. I don’t remember if it was before or after this event, but it was around the same time that one day after I called the police because of her behavior, the woman left angry message after message on my landlords’ answering machine, finally storming over to their home as only a drug-addled human being can, and demanding that they evict me or face lawsuits for this, that and the other.
The private investigator further said that he had been told that I was being investigated by a police detective from Seattle Police Department’s North Precinct. This was news to me, especially since I’ve never been arrested or accused of crimes. The closest I’ve come to being a criminal has been living in this neighborhood where the not-so-good neighborhood watch seems to believe that any real estate investment is a good one, even if it requires some racketeering here and there and a healthy portion of organized crime. And I have been careful to read and follow the law to the best of my ability from start to finish in this entire matter, which, combined with the fact that my landlords do not want to sell this house, is probably why the mobbers felt they had to mob me out of my home to force the sale of the property. It was probably a year before I finally got the results of a public disclosure request into that allegation and had it on paper that the Seattle Police Department had no knowledge of any such investigation of me.
The private investigator said that since I was harassing “the home owners,” he could not work with me any longer. He said I was “surrounded” and should move out or face multiple lawsuits. He failed to complete the work he was under agreement to do, and when I demanded the name of the attorney who had contacted him he vacillated and then said he’d not gotten the attorney’s name. I had to contact him couple of times to demand the detailed bill that he had promised in an attempt to get in writing the bizarre statements he’d made over the phone. He never revealed the name of the attorney who allegedly contacted him. And then he threatened to sue me for harassment if I contacted him again.
As I try to describe how this unethical investigator dealt with me, it’s mildly amusing to consider that this is probably what those hard-knock, gritty crime stories call “the double-cross.”
It took me months more, but I got disclosure of a first batch of complaints on parking. There were more than 100. A year or so after that, in a botched attempt to scare some other renters down the street out of the area by getting protection orders against them, the nasty neighborhood watch co-captain admitted that she had filed most of the complaints against my vehicles. By then, requesting public disclosure requests had became so common for me that I had developed a form letter citing the statute governing the public request process and emailed them off to the city immediately after each petty complaint.
The mobbers had run off the investigator and used him to intimidate me into removing my security cameras. My landlords were unhappy with the removal of the security cameras even though I had purchased the system and put them up on my own. The real estate mobbing—that is, the actual harassment into the house that I eventually realized involved radio, speakers and ventilation systems—began pretty quickly after the so-called investigator terminated his engagement with me and the security cameras were down. Within a week or two, the fake stakeout of my house that I described in another blog occurred. And the private “dick” later ran for city council or some similar position in Shoreline; for a time I saw signs with his name planted along 15th Avenue Northeast when I would go swimming at the Shoreline Pool.
This is yet another reason why communities and local government should be especially concerned about real estate mobbing and should respond strongly and swiftly to eradicate this brutal methodology for forced eviction from their neighborhoods. Real estate mobbing invites further crime; the victims of mobbing are easily preyed upon by those from whom they hope to get help. Nasty neighborhood watch organizations, shady developers and criminal real estate investors who mob legal residents out of their homes must be held responsible for endangering their victims by making them attractive prey to opportunists, scam artists and criminals.