A landlord in Zion, Illinois, and her tenants, have filed a lawsuit challenging the city’s rental inspection ordinance.
According to the landlord’s attorneys from the Institute for Justice, the ordinance grants the city broad authority to inspect and re-inspect rental properties, even where there are no complaints or code violations. If a tenant refuses to allow an inspector into the unit, the ordinance provides that the landlord is in violation of the ordinance and can be fined as much as $750 per day.
In this case, the tenants refused to allow inspectors to enter their units without warrants, claiming it would violate their constitutional rights. The city could apply for administrative warrants to conduct inspections, but instead of obtaining the warrants, the city opted to assess fines against the landlord.
Those fines currently are in the tens of thousands of dollars and climbing, according to the attorneys.
Not wanting to pressure or evict her tenants, the landlord chose to fight the ordinance, and teamed up with three of her tenants to file a lawsuit against the city. They are arguing that the inspection ordinance is intrusive, unnecessary, and violates the constitutional rights of both tenants and landlords.
According to a statement from the Institute for Justice, a judge has facilitated an agreement with the city to forego any enforcement action on the threatened fines until the case can be heard.
In another case, this one in Granite City, Illinois, the Institute for Justice was successful in obtaining temporary restraining orders to prevent the eviction of tenants under the city’s crime-free housing ordinance.
According to the IJ, that ordinance provides for mandatory evictions of tenants if relatives are charged with crimes, even if the suspect does not live at the rental and the crime was not committed at the property. In one case, a family is facing eviction after their son’s friend was accused of committing a crime at another location; in the other case, the tenant’s daughter, who does not live with the tenant, was suspected of theft. That case is expected to go before a judge this week.
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Disclaimer: The information provided in this post is not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.