Feb 25

A reader writes:

I was in one of my units the other day working on a plumbing problem. I noticed a strong smell of Pot, as I was walking from the kitchen to the bathroom I could smell the pot even stronger. I noticed There was an extension cord going into the living room closet. I looked inside the closet and there was a heat lamp a grow light and aluminum foil around the walls with a nice big plant of pot.

I called the police, when they came they advised me that there was nothing they could do since I found it with an illegal search. I explained to them that I have the right to inspect my units for damage or illegal activity. They said there was nothing they could do except watch the place and tell inspectors about the activity.

The police were wise not to make an arrest based on your discovery. The search would be invalid for the police to make an arrest, but that does not mean you did anything illegal as long as you properly noticed the tenant that you would be entering the property. Although seeing that you were there for plumbing you may wish to say you thought you smelled a strong sewerage odor and instead pot. 😉


The reason is a published Wisconsin Supreme Court case on landlords allowing police to search their tenants unit without a warrant, State, v. KIEFFER

¶ 45 For the foregoing reasons, we conclude that Garlock [the landlord] lacked actual authority to consent to a search of the defendant’s living area.   In addition, we conclude that the police made insufficient inquiry and thus could not reasonably rely upon Garlock’s apparent authority to consent to a search of the loft area.   Our conclusions on the Fourth Amendment questions render the initial entry and search constitutionally invalid, and thus avoid a need to address the other issues raised by the defendant.

You, assuming of course that you gave proper notice prior to entering the property, can evict based on this accidental finding.

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