Family Moves From Garage Rented As Living Quarters
Perhaps in some parts of Russia, a two-car garage might be considered spacious living accommodations for a family of four.
However, the double garage in back of a rental house at 1815 E. 14th isn’t considered fit or legal living quarters for anyone, let alone a family with two young children.
Scott Emmerson, enforcement officer for Spokane’s Code Enforcement Authority, last week responded to neighbors’ complaints that the property owner, Monica Hulubei, who lives next door at 1819 East 14th, was renting the garage to a Russian family.
“An immigrant family moves here. They’re still used to the ways in Russia, so they feel it’s OK to rent a garage,” Emmerson said.
He said family members, when contacted, told him they fell behind in their payments on the rental house, so Hulubei offered to rent them the garage. When contacted, Hulubei declined to comment.
The drafty garage lacks heat and running water and there is no toilet. Electricity is supplied by an extension cord running across the yard from the rental house.
Neighbors said the family was using the landlord’s bathroom.
During a visit this week, garbage and boxes of wet clothing were strewn in front of the garage, and two rolls of rotting carpet were curbside, in front of the landlord’s house. Emmerson issued Hulubei an official warning not to rent the garage again.
He said that last Friday the family was able to move out of the garage into an apartment.
Emmerson, who investigates complaints on the south side of the city, said he has had five cases in the past two months involving people who have rented a garage for someone to live in.
Such accommodations can be deadly fire traps, Emmerson said.
First-time offenders usually are issued official warnings, Emmerson said. Repeat offenses can bring substantial fines or even criminal charges for endangerment, he added.
Barry January, Hulubei’s next-door neighbor, said the 60-foot trailer she has parked in her yard blocks his access to his own fence.
Rick Hall, who lives two houses away, said Hulubei’s yard is a depository for old cars and garbage.
“Her yard was so bad last spring, it took a city crew, two dump trucks, a Bobcat and six people to clean it up,” Hall said.
In contrast, Hall pointed across the street to a neatly kept house that faces the rental house and garage.
“The people that live there fixed it up nice,” he said. “The Realtor came to look at it and told them they could basically take $10,000 off the price because they have to look at that - the open wound on the block.”
Emmerson said he does not go on to people’s property looking for illegal living quarters. He is empowered, however, to respond to neighbors complaints.
And even if a garage were to have running water, a bathroom or electricity, city code would not allow it to be turned into living quarters, Emmerson said.
Emmerson said he received a complaint last year about a family living in Hulubei’s garage, but when he went to inspect the property, no one was living there.
However, Hall said Hulubei did have people living in the garage last year.
“The family that lived there had chickens and a billy goat,” he said.