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Court of Appeals rules government can enter renters' homes

The Minnesota Court of Appeals recently ruled that the government can enter renters' homes without any evidence anything is wrong with the home. The decision allows government officials to enter the private confines of renters' homes, including their bedrooms and bathrooms, even if renters or landlords object.

"Today's decision undermines the privacy and property rights of all Minnesotans," said Institute for Justice (IJ) senior attorney Anthony Sanders, who argued the case at the Court of Appeals. "Your home is your castle, irrespective of whether you rent or own it."

The case began when the city of Golden Valley sought to inspect a rental unit in Jason and Jacki Wiebesick's duplex to check to see if their tenants were, among other things, maintaining a clean kitchen and tidy toilet. In 2015, the city informed the Wiebesicks that they would have to submit to these types of inspections in order to maintain their rental license. The Wiebesicks discussed the inspection with their tenants, and their tenants did not want it.

The city then went to court to ask for an administrative search warrant to inspect their property. Hennepin County Judge Susan Robiner disagreed and denied the city's request. The city appealed, and the IJ stepped in to protect the tenants' and landlords' rights under the Minnesota Constitution. The ACLU of Minnesota filed an amicus brief in the case.

IJ will appeal this case to the Minnesota Supreme Court.

In 2006, IJ filed a lawsuit on behalf of a coalition of landlords and tenants challenging similar inspections in Red Wing. The case was heard by the Minnesota Supreme Court in 2013, but the Court did not answer the question of whether the Minnesota Constitution prohibits the use of administrative warrants to inspect rental homes. This case will give the Minnesota Supreme Court the chance to again answer the question.