While I was at work my daughter called me in tears saying that she was awoken by a police officer who walked into our apartment and into her room, woke her up, told her to put her hands in the air, then proceeded to ask her age (she is 16) and explain that she needed to call me at work to come pick her up because we are being evicted asap. The officer was escorted in by someone in the complex management, not quite sure who it was yet though. My daughter attempted to call me a few times but I had failed to hear my cell phone as I work in a loud enviroment. A few moments later the officer came up to my daughter and said that he was sorry and that they had gotten the wrong apartment. I am furious about this mainly because it was so upsetting to my daughter. She was in shock, scared and afraid for herself with what had happened.Is this unlawful entry??? Invasion of privacy??? Or am I just overreacting and shouldn't be upset anytime an officer or management wants to enter my apartment unlawfully?
Landlord / Tenant Lawyer
The RLTA has a specific sub section dealing with landlord entry without right or permission. I think it is section .150. You have to give a written notice to your landlord advising them, as you did here, about what happened and advise them that one further intrusion like this will result in court action. The fine is $100 per violation after notice. Plus all your reasonable attorney fees and costs if necessary.
The management of this place should have been much more careful about walking into the wrong unit. What happened to your daughter verges on the outrageous. I urge you to give the formal written notice to the management and also to the police department, usually they are a lot more careful than this.
Hope this helps. Elizabeth Powell
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Landlord / Tenant Lawyer
Generally, a Landlord cannot enter your unit without proper 2 days notice.
If there was a court order to evict you (writ of restitution), then the
landlord could assist the sheriff's office to enter the unit to carry out a
physical eviction. It sounds like this is what he was trying to do, and it
may have been legal IF they got the RIGHT apartment. Since they got the
wrong apartment, the entry was unlawful. As you pointed out, the landlord
and sheriff's office simply made a mistake.
At the very least, you should call the sheriff's office that carried out the
eviction and report the incident. Find out if they have a
grievance/complaint process and file a grievance with them. It is possible
that you could file a civil suit (court action) against the sheriff's
office, but you would first want to speak to an attorney that has
experience filing lawsuits against law enforcement, to see whether such a
suit would be financially practical.
Disclaimer: I am license to practice only in Washington and am unfamiliar with the laws of your state. This answer is provided for general educational purposes only. There is no attorney-client relationship established. If your legal rights could be impacted by using this information, you are urged to seek legal counsel in your state
Family Law Attorney
The place you may want to complain to may not be the sheriff's office but the apartment manager.
It sounds as if the sheriff deputy was there to evict somebody. The deputy likely was just following the person from the apartment manager's office and was shown to the wrong unit.
Given that someone opened the door for the sheriff deputy, it may be difficult to sue the sheriff's office.
You may have an easier case against the landlord.
What you can do is review your specific facts with a few local attorneys to see whether any attorney would take your case on contingency.
You need to keep in mind that a lawsuit against the government has special procedures that must be done within a few months.