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Posted by: TEEBONE ®

01/11/2020, 14:39:38

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Rent a home, give up constitutional rights? Not so fast, says court - WND

WND Staff
4-4 minutes


Ruling pushes back against law allowing town officials right to invade residences

WND Staff By WND Staff
Published January 11, 2020 at 1:45pm

A Pennsylvania state court blocked a city law that purports to give officials the right to come into any rental residence without permission and inspect it.

The Institute for Justice filed the suit on behalf of residents of Pottstown, Pennsylvania.

The ruling reversed a lower court's decision upholding the law, sending it back to the lower court for more consideration.

The ruling also reversed the trial court's decision that the Pottstown residents were not allowed discovery of evidence.

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"This law allows the borough to enter residents' homes without cause and without the residents' consent," IJ said. "This makes sure that as the lawsuit now proceeds on remand, the residents will have a full record of how these inspections are actually conducted — and what inspectors actually do once they are inside peoples’ homes."

The court also said the tenants can challenge the law without being subjected to the "invasive rental inspections."

"After Pottstown tenants Dottie and Omar Rivera and their longtime landlord, Steve Camburn, refused to allow inspectors inside their home, Pottstown obtained administrative warrants to search inside – but with no suspicion that anything was wrong. The borough also attempted to search the non-rental family home of Pottstown residents Thomas, Kathleen, and Rosemarie O’Connor without their consent and with no search warrant whatsoever," IJ said.

"To require tenants to endure the inspections before challenging the inspection requirement would render tenants' Article I, Section 8 privacy rights illusory," the court declared.

"We are thrilled that the Commonwealth Court has recognized the Pennsylvania Constitution's strong protections of property rights," IJ Attorney Rob Peccola said. "Pottstown's rental inspections regime is a way to get around constitutional protections for privacy rights, and we look forward to litigating this case based on the facts on the ground."

Next is a compilation of a full record of the dispute, after which "there will be a decision on the merits at the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas."

The court opinion written by Judges Michael Wojcik, Christine Fizzano Cannon and Ellen Ceisler said the purpose of the town's attempt to impose mandatory inspections is "to encourage owners and occupants to maintain and improve the quality of rental housing."

They are demanding inspections of all rental units every two years, and "if voluntary access for an inspection is denied, the ordinance allows the borough to apply for an administrative warrant."

Tenants, however, contends the inspections violate their rights because there are no requirements for an "individualized probable cause to believe any building code violation exists."

"Tenants also point out that each inspector is instructed to share with police any observation of an item in a rental unit that the inspector, in his total discretion, considers an indicator of criminal activity," IJ said.

That requirement allows police "searches" of homes without any warrant, probable cause or even suspicion.


Democrats wouldn't buy a clue if it was government subsidized.

Modified by TEEBONE at Sat, Jan 11, 2020, 16:42:47

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