Seattle selling landlord's properties as 'last resort'

by: David Ham Updated:

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SEATTLE —

The city of Seattle is taking control over Clyde Yancey's eight homes by a court order to try and recoup $2.1 million in fines he owes.
 
"This is the first time the city has done a receivership, and there is nobody else being considered right now for one. This was the last resort in dealing with Mr. Yancey and getting these seven or eight properties up to code," said Kimberly Mills, spokesperson for the city attorney’s office.
 
Last month, a judge ruled that a court-appointed receiver will sell the properties to pay off Yancey's debts.
 
According to court documents, the city began receiving complaints on Yancey's properties in 1987.
 
Since 2000, the city has issued 39 citations and notices of violation of Seattle's Housing and Building Code to Yancey for various violations including junk storage, lack of water or trash service, decaying and rotted porches, handrails and roof supports and broken locks.
 
We found Yancey at a friend's house in Kenmore.
 
They’re trying to make me homeless," said Yancey.
 
When we asked why he hasn't brought his properties up to code, he blamed uncontrollable tenants.
 
“Why am I as a landlord held responsible for tenants that aren't totally hygienic," said Yancey.
 
When we asked why he never tried to pay any of the fines over the years, he said utility bills took precedent.
 
It’s either give the city some money or not pay the water for the tenant and have their water turned off," Yancey added, "Unfortunately I was somebody that tried to help out tenants when they got sick Ilet them slide on rent, that's my fault."
 
In the Central District near one of the houses Yancey owned, neighbors rejoiced over the news that the properties will be taken away.
 
James Burger lives next to one of Yancey's houses covered with bamboo plants.
 
He said neighbors have complained about the property for years.
 
"It's taken them this long for the city to do anything," Burger added, "I don’t know what they’ve been waiting for."
 
Despite the city selling off Yancey's properties, the city attorney's office said that he will be entitled to $125,000 from the sales of his houses under the Homestead Act.
 
"The goal is to maximize the amount of money to be received, not to make Mr. Yancey homeless," said Mills.
 
The city expects the houses will go up for sale around Labor Day.