New Jersey Libertarian Party Open Government Advocacy Project: Residential landlords cannot be penalized if tenants refuse to let Borough inspectors enter their homes
The Borough of National Park (Gloucester County), like many municipalities, has an ordinance that requires the owners and occupants of residential rental properties to periodically allow municipal inspectors inside the tenants' homes to conduct inspections.
On January 28, 2011, Gloucester County Superior Court Judge Jean B. McMaster, ruled on consolidated appeals filed by two landlords who had been fined $150 for refusing to grant National Park inspectors access to their rental properties. (State v. Hunsberger, (Gloucester County Municipal Appeal No. 35-09) and State v. Devine (Gloucester County Municipal Appeal No. 36-09).)
Judge McMaster reasoned that a) since tenants have a right to demand a search warrant before inspectors can enter their homes, and b) landlords do not have the capacity to waive the tenants' right to insist upon a search warrant, it violates landlords' due process rights to hold them liable for fines and impossible incarceration when their tenants refuse to consent to Borough inspections.
Ultimately, Judge McMaster ruled that a rental property owner cannot be convicted under the ordinance if the property is occupied by a residential tenant on the day of the inspection who objects to the inspector entering his or her home.
The landlords' attorney was Jamie Epstein of Cherry Hill and the court's orders and opinion are on-line here: