Sunday, January 29, 2012

Rental Registration - Dearmore v. City of Garland

DMN 1/30/2012
The rental registration program Richardson recently passed has not set well with me for primarily one reason: The owner of a rental property must, within 30 days after a tenant moves in, allow city inspectors access to inspect a property.

While I think that if any inspection at all needs to done, it should be when the single family home is vacant and before any tenant moves in.  After all, the 4th Amendment to the constitution states: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” But the US Supreme court seems to disagree with my opinion.”

During the discussion on rental home registration several weeks ago,  Mark “Monday Madness" Solomon boomed out his opinion that a rental homes are no residential properties, they are in fact a commercial enterprise that make money. I am quite sure that he would be happy to know that the Courts would agree.  “Although Dearmore does not reside at his rental properties, the court views his ownership interest in his rental property as that of the owner of a commercial business, as it is used for commercial purposes. As such, he has a reasonable expectation of privacy in his rental property.”

So, as a rental home is consider a commercial property, perhaps that is why the city decided not to have inspections prior to a tenant renting a house. A city cannot coerce the inspection of a vacant residential property without probable cause. “The businessman, like the occupant of a residence, has a constitutional right to go about his business free from unreasonable official entries upon his private commercial property. The businessman, too, has that right placed in jeopardy if the decision to enter and inspect for violation of regulatory laws can be made and enforced by the inspector in the field without official authority evidenced by a warrant.”

When is comes to probable cause, refusal to comply with inspection request by city officials does not create probably cause enough to obtain a warrant. “No search warrant shall be obtained without probable cause to believe that a fire or health hazard or violation or unsafe building condition is present on the premises sought to be inspected. A search warrant is not authorized based solely upon the failure of an owner to obtain a permit under this section.” There must be some positive proof that there exists a condition in violation of city codes, not just suspicions.

As for the renter’s rights, the rental home he leases is his home. Against the 4th amendment protect his right to privacy just as it would any business or resident. You residence is your residence whether rented or own.

The City of Richardson, if it intends to continue enforcing it’s ordinances will likely end up in the same place as Garland, the losing side of a court case.

So what can you do if you like the current rental registration program? Nothing.

But, suppose you don't like it and would like to do something about it. There is one thing you might want to do, call Metrotex and speak to Romeo Arrieta, telling him that they think the ordinance is unfair, unconstitutional, or what ever you think. His number is (972) 467-0819 


  1. Incrediby, The city of Richardson decided to go ahead and write their ordinance, knowing that it was ruled unconstitutional in Garland. If that is not at least an ethical violation, I don't know what is. Oh wait; Richardson city management is above the law.

  2. Above the law comes to mind when considering our city government. Remeber the last charter change election? 6 of 7 council members signed an endorsement for the passing of the charter revisions which was then mailed out from the address where the richardson chamber calls home. Incestuous relationships!

  3. So what else is new! I still say until the people rise up we will continue to become a more socialistic city.

  4. The City (and one of these days someone must tell me who the city is beyond the staff that benefit directly from our tax dollars) is banking (no pun intended) on the citizens ignorance of the law. Always have and always will. So if you are unknowledgeable on Constitutional rights, they will continue to take them away. This is the war of them and us. They want bigger government and we want less government interferring in our lives. There is not one person on this council that has the GIFT to know what is best for those they have never met. Stop listening to the noise of unreality that the city is great or I am here to serve you, or whatever the lie of the moment is. Stop asking permission for your rights. If you believe you don't have them, then click those ruby slipper heels together and wait for the Good Witch of the West to remind you that YOU have always had them! Learn the game they use against you. And if you get right down to it, the council is being used in the same way and don't know it any better than the citizens. The United States of America has transformed from the greatest creditor nation in the world to the greatest debtor nation in the world because the citizens have not paid attention.

    I refuse to surrender and to allow a more socialistic city by the blind leadership of this council all the way up to Washington by our own Pete Sessions. My kids and grandkids deserve better than the lie they speak.

  5. Seems like they want it both ways: treat it as a commercial location for Nanny State purposes but leave it as residential for zoning.

  6. What a pickle the city officials have created. This ordinance is unenforceable. The Garland case means a person can not be forced to give up his 4th amendment right to privacy with a city mandated inspection. The Garland case does not address whether or not a person who rents a house is required to give up his right to privacy. If a person has the expectation of privacy on vacant property, commercial or residential, how unlikely would it be that a court side with the city over a renter on the issue. It would seem that a renter has at the very least the same rights to privacy. How can a renter be expected to give up his right to privacy, just because he is a renter?
    Richardson is over-reaching on this issue and it will soon end up costing the taxpayers plenty of money on attorney fees and damages when a suit is filed. I disagree with anon1:12. It is not an ethical violation. The council probably thinks they are the law and what ever they want to do is the way it should be. It is ignorance on their part and that of the city attorney.

  7. It's a trick. Landlords are compelled to forfeit their privacy rights by Ordinance. That can't be legal. 6-474(c) of the Ordinance describes how the City will use an inspection warrant to gain entry. Where's the probable cause protection? There is a whole lot of unreasonable search going on here. Richardson is compounding its reputation for mean spirit toward residents.

  8. Something to ponder: Since the city is now in the Real Estate Inspection business, is the city liable if the inspector misses something and the house blows up,floods or whatever?

  9. An investor specifically asked an inspector that question. Ok, I'll let you inspect the house as long as you assume liability for its safety. The inspector said no. They just want government intrusions with NO ACCOUNTABILITY!

  10. Richardson's city attorney DELIBERATELY wrote its ordinance to circumvent the federal ruling on Garland's program. He thinks they can get away with its ordinance as long as it gives tenants the right to refuse, while in reality, they aren't allowing tenants to say "no".

    The city council has no idea what it did by approving the ordinance update in Nov 2011, which added a warrant procedure.

  11. >Ordinance describes how the City will use an inspection warrant to gain entry. Where's the probable cause protection?

    The city issued an administrative warrant WITH NO MENTION of probable cause.

    Homeowners need to carefully consider whether the city stops at rental properties.