Liberal City Sued for Warrantless Searches
Article from Reason by Scott Shackford.
In an alleged effort to root out slumlords, some cities treat renters as though they don’t have any rights, forcing residents to allow government officials in for mandatory warrantless “inspections” to make sure homes are up to code.
The lawyers at the Institute for Justice, a national public interest law firm, have been trying to fight these inspections for years as unconstitutional violations of the Fourth Amendment. This week they’ve filed a class-action complaint against the city of Seattle that attempts to put a stop to its inspection program.
According to their lawsuit, Seattle launched an inspection program in 2015 that requires landlords to register rental properties with the city. The city then randomly chooses 10 percent of the rental properties to inspect each year. This includes inhabited apartments and houses. The rental inspections are very thorough, allowing searches of the entire premises and therefore mandating that the people living there allow strangers in to look over their stuff.
In July, according to the lawsuit, a group of renters sharing a home wrote city officials telling them that they do not consent to a search of their property. The owner of the home also wrote to let the city know that she was respecting her tenants’ wishes. The city responded that if the landlord refused to let the inspectors in, she faced penalties of $150 a day for the first 10 days, and then $500 a day afterward. Seattle did not even respond to the letter from the tenants.
Read the entire article at Reason.
Image Credit: By Daniel Schwen (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons