The effort by the local government in Rochester, New York, to destroy the fourth amendment rights of renters.

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The effort by the local government in Rochester, New York, to destroy the fourth amendment rights of renters.

These warrants are generated without suspicion of a crime and do not specify things to be searched. They remain valid for 45 days, permit multiple entries by code officers, and allow officers to film their inspections, which are later publicly available. The whole neighborhood is able to see the letters on a coffee table and the contents of a medicine cabinet. Inspectors are permitted to look through every aspect of a house, wherever there may be violations of “federal, state, county, or city law, ordinance, rule or regulation relating to the construction, alteration, maintenance, repair, operation, use, condition or occupancy of a premises.” Inspectors may look inside “interior surfaces” of closets and drawers to determine if they are “clean and sanitary.”

And then there’s this suspicious fact:

But David Ahl, a board member of the New York State Coalition of Property Owners and Businesses, alleges that the city is engaging in punitive action meant to chill the exercise of the right to deny consent. Through Freedom of Information Law requests he has discovered that city has filed 50 administrative search warrants since 2003, every single one of which target properties owned and managed by members of his organization.

Why is the Rochester government specifically only getting these broad search warrants against members of this particular organization?



  • While I hold no brief for the City of Rochester, the spokesman for the aggrieved renters isn’t doing them any favors when he says things like “And the city is using them against the poor and disenfranchised, not against those who are wealthy enough to own their own homes.”

    This is exactly the sort of formulaic trope that polarizes factions and makes the other side stop listening. I rent, and I’m not poor, nor have I ever been disenfranchised since the age of majority (look up the word, Michael Burger). I’ve also owned homes, and I’m far from wealthy. The plaintiffs need to can this clown and find someone who can make rational arguments based on the merits and the law.

  • Pzatchok

    The inspections only happen every 6 years?

    And I can see why the warrants are made to last 30 days. They are probably waiting for the residents to be available for the inspection so no single day can be set.

    Video taping the event is good practice so both parties have evidence of the state of the residence.
    Putting it out in public is stupid.

    Owners have always had the right to enter a rental property at their whim. With a reasonable warning in most cases.
    Police have always had the right under reasonable suspicion of a crime.
    And city inspections can be handed out to anyone, owners included.

    To me it sounds like a few stubborn people just tilting at windmills.

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