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Rental Housing News

   Volume I Issue VIII         August 1996 





UPDATE - Rental Inspections

Legal Recourse

Medina Ohio Judge Dale Chase, ruled that an inspection ordinance that requires tenants to allow inspectors into their home without permission, may be unconstitutional under the forth amendment.

On November 8th of 1995 the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania entered an order declaring the annual apartment license fee in the Borough of Norristown unlawful.

Federal judges in Philadelphia, however, ruled that the Glenolden Borough Council did not violate a tenants rights by conducting a mandatory inspection.

The city of Kalamazoo lost their opening skirmish on September 15, when District Judge Quinn Benson dismissed the charges against a landlord who refused to let inspectors into a rental unit without the tenants permission, but he stopped short of ruling that the inspection program is unconstitutional. An Ohio judge thinks inspection ordinances are unconstitutional, a Pennsylvania judge thinks they're not and a Michigan judge isn't sure.

Landlords are winning on issues relating to fees and allowing entry , but the larger questions still to be resolved are: Can a city inspect without tenant consent and, if not, who must secure that consent - the landlord or the city?

If the tenants case goes all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, and it is likely that it will, there is very good reason to hope for an affirmation of the Fourth Amendment. In recent years, the Court has declared that "individual freedom finds tangible expression in property rights (1993)," that "property rights cannot be relegated to the status of a poor relation" in comparison to other constitutional rights (1994), and that "the sanctity of the home.has been embedded in our traditions since the founding of the Republic" (1980). In 1961, the Court also ruled that a landlord cannot approve a search of a tenant's home without the tenant's consent or a warrant.

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Taylor Michigan, April 1996

7,000 Units to be knocked down because: Taylor too has had enough of Subsidized Housing Complexes

Last month we reported on the demise of public housing in an article titled: "Franklin's Monster Destroyed." Our story pointed out the number of places in the country where the community has had enough of the kind of public housing policy that HUD promoted for decades. Now HUD is committed to tearing down public housing at a rapid rate and attempting to replace it with expanded Section 8 certificates or housing that is more compatible with the community.

According to the Detroit Free Press, the Michigan city of Taylor plans to go much further and faster than HUD's plans. After years of trying to solve problems ranging from high crime to teen-age pregnancy and child neglect at six privately owned, federally subsidized apartment complexes, Taylor officials have resorted to asking for a 1-mill tax levy to buy them and tear them down.

"We have assaults, murders and police constantly responding to crime down there," said Police Chief Tom Bonner. "It is a significant drain on the community."

About 7,000 people live in the complexes and would have to be relocated or evicted, but the city contends that tearing down public housing is the only answer to the continuing problems in them.

News and Commentary Wanted

We invite you to participate in this publication. E-Mail any news we may have missed, or even interesting opinions, about rental housing. We will try to use any of your work that we can.

For the time being, we will not be able to pay you for your work. But as this site grows, contributors will be compensated just as you would be in the print media.

Topics always of interest include: government glitches; new local law; human interest stories about landlord tenant relations; anecdotes; maintenance tips; landlord tenant associations; educational opportunities and seminars.

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