Nanny State

Minnesota Inspectors Check Whether You Cleaned Your Toilet

Rental properties are checked regularly top to bottom, and some landlords are challenging the intrusion on their right to privacy.

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Local officials in a Minnesota town want to make sure their residents are keeping a tidy home.

And, like a mother with a son who tries to hide everything under his bed instead of actually cleaning his room, they're coming up there to have a look around, so everything better be clean or you're grounded, mister.

Two landlords in Golden Valley, Minnesota, who recently found themselves on the receiving end of inspections from city housing officials now find themselves dragged into court to defend their right to privacy. They say they were within their rights to block what the city calls a mandatory inspection of rental properties.

Even after one Minnesota judge ruled that Golden Valley can't conduct inspections without a good reason, the city is spending more taxpayer money on an appeal.

"We've done nothing wrong and we have nothing to hide," said Jason Wiebesick, one of the plaintiffs in the case. "The city of Golden Valley shouldn't be allowed to force its way into innocent people's homes."

The city sees things differently. It requires a complete inspection of rental properties – all the way down to checking on the cleanliness of the kitchen and the bathroom – as part of a license renewal process that all landlords must go through periodically.

Jason and his wife, Jacki, say the city should have to provide evidence of wrongdoing before they're allowed to stomp through a private residence. When inspectors showed up in April 2015, the Wiebesicks, and their current tenants, told them to go away.

Instead, the city went to Hennepin County Court, seeking an administrative warrant to search the property. Unlike a criminal warrant, an administrative warrant does not require evidence of wrongdoing.

In September, though, a district judge sided with the Wiebesicks and blocked the warrant.

At a hearing, the city admitted they had "no individualized suspicion supporting its warrant application," wrote Judge Susan Robiner. Given previous state Supreme Court decisions balancing privacy with similar home inspection laws in other cities, Robiner concluded that Golden Valley must show "at least some level of individualized suspicion to issue a warrant allowing the government to search one's home."

But the nannies in Golden Valley won't take "no" for an answer—they're pushing the case to the Minnesota Court of Appeals. It seems they really, really want to poke around inside the Wiebesick's properties, and they're willing to spend taxpayer money to keep the case going.

"What's at stake is a simple matter of making sure we have safe housing that meets minimal standards," Golden Valley Fire Chief John Crelly told WCCO-TV in Minneapolis. Crelly says the inspections often turn-up code violations and safety concerns that catch tenants and landlords by surprise.

But there's nothing stopping tenants or landlords from requesting inspections, it's the automatic nature of them that has the Wiebesick's upset.

Golden Valley's rental ordinance gives inspectors access to every part of the home, including the bathroom and bedroom. If inspectors see anything they think might be illegal, they can hand it over to law enforcement – without the police having to get a separate warrant first.

The whole thing is "a fundamental violation of the Minnesota Constitution's protection against illegal searches," says Anthony Sanders, a senior attorney for the Institute for Justice, a libertarian law firm that has stepped in to represent the Wiebesick's in front of the state Court of Appeals.

"The mere fact that someone rents a home, rather than owns it, should not give the government the right to disrupt their life, invade their privacy and search every nook and cranny of their home—all without providing a shred of evidence that anything is wrong," Sanders said in a statement from IJ.

Privacy is a concept often lost on the enforcers of the nanny state's rules. Residents, believe it or not, aren't like children who can be told they must clean their rooms before going outside to play.

This article originally appeared at Watchdog.org.

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  1. “The city of Golden Valley shouldn’t be allowed to force its way into innocent people’s homes.”

    You get what you ask for, and most Americans are asking for MOAR, please interfere in our daily lives MOAR, MAY WE HAVE MOAR PLEASE!?

    Ok, I admit, I’m just jealous because I never realized my life long dream of becoming a government employed toilet inspector.

    1. That sounds like a shitty job to me.

      1. It’s a crappy life but the benefits on paper are worth it.

        1. I don’t know. Sounds like pissing away your life to me.

          1. Yeah, you might as well just head down to the dump.

            1. *AAAANH!*

              Technical foul – pun has to be reasonably related to the topic at hand. 30 yard penalty.

  2. Golden Valley’s rental ordinance gives inspectors access to every part of the home, including the bathroom and bedroom. If inspectors see anything they think might be illegal, they can hand it over to law enforcement ? without the police having to get a separate warrant first

    Just imagine, a government busy body tromping through your home on a routine basis, going through your medicine cabinets and your dresser drawers. Why it’s the perfect vision of a socialist utopia come true. What a bold new vision of the future. Forward comrades, let us achieve this new paradise, together!

    1. Joe from Lowell just got highly aroused, as did amsoc.

    2. Hyper,

      Well stated; this language is sweet and appropriate to the current wave of Dem Primary coziness with “the Bern,” which Hillary is eagerly trying to catch. Why not do’ em a solid and tweet your “peoples truth” to the comrades?

  3. If you need a license to rent property in Golden Valley, I predict a coming shortage of rental units, and a whole bunch right over the city limit.

    1. It’s an interesting approach to getting rid of rental units, the scourge of aging suburbs.

      Golden Valley is a very mixed suburb, with some very expensive and some very shitty neighborhoods. Like most cities in MN, I assume they still spend money like crazy and are realizing their current mix won’t work.

      This is so fucking insane.

      1. It’s an interesting approach to getting rid of rental units, the scourge of aging suburbs.

        We have the opposite in the Bay Area. Regional government agencies want to force all suburbs to build rental apartment buildings. Even completely built-out affluent suburbs, miles away from the cities, are being told they have to find somewhere to put in hundreds of high-density apartment complexes units, ‘near transit’, as part of their ‘fair share’ to increase area rental housing supply.

        The reason (and people actually believe this, with religious fervor) is that if every town does this it will actually combat climate change (!). Also, it will prevent ‘sprawl’, which is the most despised thing to urban elites, who just can’t stand the thought of middle-income folks going to the outskirts so they can obtain their dream of their own house with a driveway and a back yard. No, these people don’t know what they really want for their family, which is to live forever is an apartment above a subway station, so we’re going to force them to do that.

        Poor Bay Area fools don’t even realize that if it hadn’t been for ‘sprawl’, there’d be no such thing as Silicon Valley, and San Francisco would just be a cute tourist town with much more limited commerce, along the lines of New Orleans. But of course, you can’t make logical arguments when the others are on the side of angels.

        1. Don’t a lot of suburbs already *prohibit* such construction? Maybe cut the regulations and see what happens.

        2. Huh. I didn’t know about the climate change angle on that. I thought it was just because there wasn’t enough affordable housing for low income people in the bay area. Which makes a bit more sense.

  4. “as part of a license renewal process that all landlords must go through periodically.”

    Why do I need a license to rent out my property? Oh so that you can rummage through without probable cause.

    Sure let me sign up for that. Seems like a great idea

    1. The government is there to protect the people renting the property who are not qualified to inspect the toilets themselves

  5. “The mere fact that someone rents a home, rather than owns it, should not give the government the right to disrupt their life, invade their privacy and search every nook and cranny of their home?all without providing a shred of evidence that anything is wrong.”

    “Oh, very well. Do it to owned homes, too.”

    1. You’re not going to stay in office doing that

    2. The city sees it as inspecting a business.

      The people who live in the rental see it as a search of their home.

      And what do you want to bet most of the pubsecs involved in this agree are squishy libs who would nod enthusiastically to “Keep the government out of our bedroom”, while demanding the authority to go into your bedroom any time they damn well please.

      1. “Well if you have nothing to hide”

        1. what about a salami?

  6. If inspectors see anything they think might be illegal, they can hand it over to law enforcement…

    That, I suspect, is the reason they’re pushing hard for this. I mean, I’m sure there are fines that can be garnered for code violations, but any opportunity for a warrantless search they’re going to take.

  7. That’s a clear violation of 4th amendment. They might be able to make the argument to inspect between tenents before rerenting similar to home inspection laws.

    1. They might be able to make the argument to inspect between tenents before rerenting similar to home inspection laws.

      This was the case in the community where we live. Before we could move into this house, a rental inspector contracted by the city (no corruption here, folks) had do an inspection and issue a permit. He was a fat, lazy old fuck, much like me. He didn’t bother actually doing anything, he just took his $50, signed, and left.

      I suspect our experience was typical.

      1. “He was a fat, lazy old fuck, much like me. He didn’t bother actually doing anything, he just took his $50, signed, and left.”

        Sounds good to me. Here, the clerks charge a $50 fee for accepting a form handed to them by a citizen, who’s done all the work filling it out, and sticking it in the filing cabinet. There was a council meeting once where the head clerk vehemently defended the claim that it actually cost the city at least $50 for one of her underfucklings to do this. And it’s $20 to go in and be allowed to visually confirm the wording of a law (which is necessary since they have many times issued citations under laws that didn’t actually say what the city said they said; there were times when I’ve had them send me a letter where they quoted a section of law, only to discover when I went and looked at the city code that it was slightly, but in some important matter, different), and another $5 a page if you actually want a photocopy. And citizens are prohibitted from making their own copies using portable technology. They have elaborate explanations for why each of these “services” is necessary, why it shouldn’t be paid for by tax money, and why it actually costs the city AT LEAST that much to provide it.

    2. in texas it is the buyer who requests a home inspection. Not the state.

    3. They might be able to make the argument to inspect between tenents before rerenting similar to home inspection laws.

      Respectfully…

      no

    4. I mean shit, you could probably argue that they are violating the third, at least temporarily.

  8. Doesn’t the tenant have an interest in having a well-cared for home? If this were really about making sure that rental properties were not sub-standard, then a letter could be mailed to the tenant at the time of license renewal. If the tenant were dis-satisfied with the condition of the home an inspection could be requested.

    This has to be about something else, and the smart money is on driving out rental units from their city.

    1. Doesn’t the tenant have an interest in having a well-cared for home?

      Of course. And if that’s the tenant’s concern, xe can poke around the property xermself. Or hire a pro to do it for xerm. If the landlord doesn’t allow that, the prospective tenant can walk away.

      1. To be clear: before signing the lease.

    2. In Plano, Texas, the city periodically inspects a random sampling of rental units. The tenant have the opportunity to opt out of the inspection. Or, to request that their unit, if not one of the selected units, be inspected also.

    3. If the tenant were dis-satisfied with the condition of the home an inspection could be requested.

      Again…no.

      Hows bouts if the tenant does not approve of the conditions of the private property he is about to voluntarily enter into a contract to live in, he doesn’t enter into the contract?

      1. But see you don’t understand. People need to live somewhere, so the property owners (who are just one faceless entity, not tons of individuals) are literally forcing people to rent from them, so you really can’t compare them to the nice people with guns who are just looking out for your best interest (who will toss you in jail or shoot your dog if they see something that is hurting you, like the evil marijuana companies forcing you to smoke the Devils weed, or if the gun lobby mind controlled you into owning a firearm without the requisite pieces of paper and state permission). If it wasn’t for the good people who work for the state, landlords would just be charging you millions of dollars to live in a cardboard box.

        This is what people actually beleive.

      2. Didn’t I just say that above, shitlord? Not even a hat tip? You monster.

        1. I was working under the assumption that properties had deteriorated subsequent to a lease being signed. I’m not saying these types of things aren’t ideally settled with contract instead of interference by inspectors etc. Hell, there is no good justification for the licensing either.

          The point was that even if you were to the argument for such inspections at face value, and hypothetically concede that there is a state interest in inspecting the property, or forcing landlords to meet certain standards, then the tenant is a more than qualified enforcement mechanism. The fact that the city wants to bypass that (while trampling on the rights of the tenant that they claim to want to protect) reveals that the justification for this is a very thin facade.

    4. It’s odd how often destroying the economy and driving everyone into poverty and destroying their tax base and running the city finances into the ground seem to be key aims of the municipal plan.

  9. Why resist if you have nothing to hide?

    Others are grateful when we save them from certain death in a fire trap!

  10. There is no need for unannounced inspections. A tenant will throw their landlord under the bus in a heartbeat.

  11. It sounds like they really want this, and you know how it is when evil wants something. It never rests until it happens. They’re like roaches, you can’t seem to kill them all and as soon as you’re asleep and the lights are off, they come crawling out of their dark places. I already envision their ultimate plan. When all else fails, they somehow get a new kind of homeowners association going, only for rentals. And then they use the busy bodies in the rental community to do their evil bidding for them. And you know that there is nowhere in this country where there is a shortage of busy bodies.

  12. There you have it.

    They got their foot in the door.

    Give a pig an inch…it’ll want the table.

    The day where bureaucrats come into your home is not that far away.

  13. If only there were some supreme law of the land that laid out, specifically, when and under what conditions the government could search and/or seize your property…

    1. Deference, biatch.

  14. Why hasn’t Congress enacted law that provides for the punishment of 4th Amendment violations?

    1. That’s a good question. You’d think that violating the “law of the land” would be a crime.

  15. My mothers neighbour is working part time and averaging $9000 a month. I’m a single mum and just got my first paycheck for $6546! I still can’t believe it. I tried it out cause I got really desperate and now I couldn’t be happier. Heres what I do,

    ………………….. http://www.richi8.com

    1. OK, but could it survive inspection?

  16. If this is ruled unconstitutional, will every person convicted of a petty drug or gun crime where the evidence came from the illegal searches have an opportunity to have their convictions overturned?

    That would be wonderful.

    1. “Unconstitutional….as applied”

      We wouldn’t want to rock the boat too much!

  17. We have a similar ordinance where we live. The city won’t turn on utilities until you pay them $40 to do a home inspection ($40 is basically a flat fee for interacting with the city. We had to pay $40 because there was too much grass growing over the gravel on the driveway where we rented and so we were “parking on grass” and that was “damaging to the environment.”) The inspection was about three minutes of someone walking around the house. There’s zero chance the electrical in there was up to code (the entire place was on three breakers and old outlets from before a renovation just had wires sticking out of the wall) but the “inspector” didn’t give a shit.

    We later purchased a home outside the jurisdiction of the city, but then unfortunately found out we were still on their water service so we had to go through the same inspection nonsense again. They wouldn’t turn on the water until they went through their inspection, despite the fact that we had a much more thorough and professionally handled inspection as part of the home purchase, so we occupied the house for a couple of days with no water (which would have resulted in more fines if they had found us doing that). Our neighbor slung a hose over the fence for us to get water until they turned it on. Took them a few days after the “inspection” to bother to come by and turn the water on too.

  18. This is one reason I left Pa. USA 25 years ago, when local bureaucrats told me I could not build my underground dome in a RURAL AREA because the soil was not quite right, even though I had an architect’s endorsement of my plan. I closed a thriving business, sold my home and came to Mexico, WHERE i CAN BUILD WHATEVER i WANT WITHOUT PERMITS.

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    All we need is a mobile or PC with a very good internet connection. There are many applications by which we can enjoy videos, our missed programs, live streaming etc.

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