When I was sound asleep at 11pm two weeks ago, my landlord's maintenance man entered my apartment. I woke up to find a large man with a flashlight in my bedroom. It was so shocking that I started screaming at him, and I called the police. I have not been able to sleep since then, and I do not feel safe here anymore.
He entered my apartment because the apartment two floors down had water coming through the ceiling, and he wanted to check my water heater. He had already checked the apartment directly below me, where everything was fine. I don't understand why he had to also check mine. Since then, the landlord has notified us that all water heaters are going to be replaced because they are "expired".
I can't believe that I did not wake up if he had knocked loudly, and/or if he had loudly announced his entrance. He did not turn on any lights - instead he went through the apartment with a flashlight. I awoke because he said something to me once he was in my bedroom.
The landlord had called and texted me previous to entering, but my phone was turned off. I'd like to know what laws apply here. Did he follow the law, or not?
RCW 59.18.150 (Landlord's right of entry—Purposes—Searches by fire officials—Searches by code enforcement officials for inspection purposes—Conditions) provides: "(5) The landlord may enter the dwelling unit without consent of the tenant in case of emergency or abandonment."
Trying to find the source of "water coming through the ceiling" is almost certainly an emergency. The landlord appeared to have tried to contact you before entering.
Unless the maintenance person was trying to attack you, it is likely reasonable to believe that all he was in your apartment to do was to try to find that leaking water.
"I don't understand why he had to also check mine." The water had to come from somewhere. Water sometimes takes unexpected routes. It was reasonable to keep looking until the source of the leak was found. If the water leak is not found and stopped, all the tenants would soon be complaining about mold.
If you were "sound asleep", it would be reasonable to conclude that you did not hear the knocking.
If you do not want to live there anymore, the landlord may agree to release you from the lease if you have one. If you want to leave, have you asked the landlord?
You can review the specific facts with a personal injury attorney. However, I doubt that you will have some sort of lawsuit against the landlord because you are having troubles sleeping.
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