San Francisco, CA asked in Business Law, Civil Rights and Municipal Law for California

Q: Can county inspectors enter private property to do an inspection of a business onsite with no permission or warrant?

County inspectors arrived to my private property unannounced and walked past a closed gate with a posted "private property, no trespassing" sign and helped themselves to an inspection of an onsite business for code violations. They never even attempted to contact me beforehand, had no expressed permission, and no administrative warrant.

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Civil Rights Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Under California law, county inspectors generally need either permission or an administrative warrant to enter private property for inspections. This is especially true for areas not open to the public or where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy. However, there are exceptions depending on the nature of the inspection and the urgency of the situation.

For instance, if the inspection is related to public health and safety, and there's an immediate threat, inspectors may be allowed entry without prior notice or a warrant. This is less common and typically applies to emergencies or situations posing significant risks.

In the situation you described, where inspectors entered your private property without notice, permission, or a warrant, this could potentially be a violation of your rights. The legality of their entry would depend on the specific circumstances and the nature of the inspection.

It would be advisable to review the specific details with legal counsel. They can assess whether the inspectors' actions were within their legal rights or if there was a breach of protocol. If it's found that the inspectors acted outside their legal authority, you may have grounds to contest any findings or actions they took as a result of the inspection.

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