By: Diane Benjamin
Last night at least one landlord showed up too late to speak, he didn’t know the public comment rules. He wondered why nothing was done to stop the local boot on his neck.
Easy! You aren’t paying attention. Nobody cares until the fees and taxes affect them. Brilliant. The Bloomington City Council has already heavily damaged your wallet, expect more.
Last night the Council amended the rental inspection ordinance, maybe illegally – still checking into it. Worse: The entire inspection program may violate the law. Government can not legally violate the 4th Amendment by claiming people need to be protected:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, paper, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
In other words, government CAN NOT legally inspect every rental property just because they want to. Probable cause must exist before Bloomington can send an inspector into apartments and violate the rights of the persons living there.
Mandatory rental inspections violate the Fourth Amendment. A short intrusion can reveal very personal information about one’s religion, political beliefs, emotional or mental state, hobbies, sexual orientation, and/or gender identity. Needless to say, people shouldn’t lose their privacy rights just because they’re renting a property. To make matters worse, in Red Wing (Mn), rental inspection reports are “public data.”
The Bloomington ordinance mandates inspections of ALL apartments regardless of probable cause. Renner/Hales/Council fail to understand that government can not legally violate privacy rights just because they want to babysit landlords. Tenants have a right to slam the door in their faces.
“A program in search of a problem”
Cities that have passed rental registration and inspection ordinances usually claim they’re necessary to crack down on code violations and punish slumlords. But violating the Fourth Amendment is an excessive response.
But in 2008, a U.S. Court of Appeals struck down part of Garland’s (Texas) rental inspection ordinance as unconstitutional:
“The court fully understands that the City has a valid and important governmental interest in protecting the public, however, the court sees no reason why this should be done at the expense of infringing on rights guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution.”
See this link for more information and maybe help with a local lawsuit: http://ij.org/action-post/does-the-constitution-apply-to-renters-a-primer-on-warrantless-rental-inspections/
One would think since Alderman Buragas is a lawyer, she would know this. Where’s that $50,000+ per month Springfield attorney?