State high court sides with city in rental inspection case
RED WING, Minn. -- Minnesota's highest court says Red Wing's rental inspection ordinance is not unconstitutional on its face.
In an opinion issued Friday, the court said for it to rule the ordinance unconstitutional at this point, "appellants must demonstrate that every warrant to conduct an (inspection) will be issued without individualized suspicion."
Under the city's ordinance, rental housing inspectors can apply for administrative warrants from a judge to enter properties if landlords or tenants refuse initial inspections.
The Institute for Justice, a law firm representing nine landlords and two tenants challenging the ordinance, has argued that provision violates the right to privacy and to be free from "unreasonable searches."
The justices said the ordinance can be applied constitutionally because a judge could require the city to bring forth evidence to issue a warrant.
The Institute for Justice attorneys did not prove the ordinance is unconstitutional in all applications, the court ruled, which is required at this point since the city has not obtained any administrative warrants. The city has unsuccessfully sought a handful of them in the past.
Attorney John Baker, representing the city of Red Wing, told justices in February that inspections are needed for public safety and health reasons, among others.