South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Landlords Have No Privacy Interest in Inspections of Rental Units

Indiana high court held that a city housing code did not violate the Fourth Amendment by not including a warrant procedure for city inspections of rental units. Landlords do not occupy the rental units. Consequently, they have no privacy interest to be protected and therefore have no right to insist on warrants.

Topic Constitutional Law
Key Words

Warrant Procedure; Housing Inspection; Privacy Interest

C A S E   S U M M A R Y

The City of Vincennes (Indiana) Rental Housing Code sets standards for rental units and provides for inspections. Several landlords contested the constitutionality of the provision of inspection of rental units as in violation of the Fourth Amendment. The Code provides no warrant procedure in the event a landlord objects to an inspection. The trial court and appeals court agreed and declared the Code unconstitutional. The City appealed.


Reversed. The landlords had standing to raise the Fourth Amendment challenge to the housing Code, but the lack of a warrant procedure is not in violation of the Constitution. To violate the Fourth Amendment the landlords must show that the government action unreasonably invaded their legitimate privacy interest. An inspection does not invade a legitimate privacy interest held by landlords since they do not occupy the rental units as either residences or commercial space.


City of Vincennes v. Emmons, 841 N.E.2d 155 (Sup. Ct., Ind., 2006)

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