Renters as Second Class Citizens

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by Conor Friedersdorf

Ryan writes about something I'd never heard about: rental safety inspections.

In the last two towns where I have lived (Burlington, VT and State College, PA) both had local laws requiring that rental units had to be inspected at regular intervals. In other words, once a year (or so) renters are legally required to allow a government employee to conduct a search for illegal [supposedly just safety-related] activity.  If they catch a violation either the resident or landlord can be fined depending on who's at fault.  In Burlington if you refuse them they will just come back with a warrant regardless of probable cause.  In State College there is just a flat fine for not having had it done.  I don't think you could invent a more straightforward violation of our 4th amendment rights than to get searched at regular intervals, without probable cause, to
make sure that no one is acting illegally. I seem to be completely alone in actually caring.  Am I missing something?

You're not alone anymore. This is outrageous. And the law would never stand if they tried to apply it to homeowners.

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