Tyrone, PA asked in Constitutional Law and Land Use & Zoning for Pennsylvania

Q: Ordinance inspectors walking on private property. When asked to leave they return with local police escort, no warrant.

Peeking in buildings, campers, garages, they say they have a right on private property w/o your permission and w/o administrative warrant. Actual ordinance says they have a right to inspect all buildings on the property, if they want to. The ordinance inspector says it's legal and the 4th Amendment does not apply b/c of "in plain view" law. If he believes he sees a violation, he can walk on the property, and inspect land and buildings, w/o consent or a warrant. He is not a law enforcement officer.

1 Lawyer Answer
Peter N. Munsing
Peter N. Munsing
  • Wyomissing, PA
  • Licensed in Pennsylvania

A: An interesting point. If he sees a violation in plain view---i.e. visible from the street--they can cite the owner. However if they need to get on the property they need to ask permission. They can and should get a warrant. That they didn't is something you should contact the Pennsylvania Civil Liberties Union about.

Michigan v. Tyler, 536 U.S. 499, 504-508 (1978).

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