Displaced Sacajawea Residents Trying to Retrieve Property - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Displaced Sacajawea Residents Trying to Retrieve Property

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PASCO, Wash. - It has been over a week since the fire that heavily damaged the Sacajawea Apartments in Pasco. Pasco building inspectors say the building is unlivable right now but much of the personal property of displaced residents is still inside

"No landlord is permitted to either force a tenant to stay away from the rented premises or to keep a tenants belongings or to hold them from the tenant without a court order that says that's permissible," said Gary Smith with NW Justice Project.

A week after a fire heavily damaged the Sacajewea Apartments, many residents are still having trouble retrieving their possessions. The owner of the apartments told us last week she let residents in for 15 minutes after they signed a release.

"North West Justice Project would take the position the landlord is liable to any loss to those possessions while they're kept from the tenants," Smith said.

Smith spoke with city building inspectors and tells NBC Right Now there is no order for residents to stay off premises. Inspectors say the building is uninhabitable but with proper masks and safety, the residents can still collect their property.

"An officer came up to me and she put a no trespass against me and she's not even allowed to do that. I spoke with an attorney today and she has to evict me from the property," said apartment resident Billie Vinson.

This weekend, former building manager Billie Vinson was reported as a public disturbance and was ordered to stay off the property. But her attorney believes she still has a right to collect her belongings, along with the other residents, even if they signed a waiver.

"It's very difficult for anybody to say that they have knowingly waived any damages that have been caused to their property because they've not yet had a chance to see that or recover that," Smith said.

Pasco police say they have turned away some residents after causing disturbances but they are not providing any security detail or patrolling the apartments any more than they usually would.