Fourth Amendment Rights in the Context of SCEP

Inspections Restored to Landlords and Tenants! 

  For years, the City of Los Angeles has violated landlord and tenant 4th Amendment rights, through the implementation of the Systematic Code Enforcement Program, and its inspection procedures.  The City has finally been held accountable for the illegal inspection law, and has been forced to change it.

Previously, a landlord would receive a notice informing them that a SCEP inspection would occur on their property on a specific date.  Under the Los Angeles Municipal Code, if consent to enter the property was denied, the landlord, or tenant could be found guilty of a criminal misdemeanor and fined.  Additionally, the SCEP inspectors would continue to return to the property even though consent to the search/inspection was denied, and the landlord would be charged an inspection fee for the failed attempts to gain entry.

Due to a lawsuit brought in federal court, the City now has to comply with the requirements outlined in a United State Supreme Court case, that mandates that upon denial of consent to the search/inspection, the party to be searched must be afforded pre-compliance review.  What this amounts to in plain terms is that if a landlord or tenant denies consent to the inspection, the inspector must leave, and the City must now obtain an administrative warrant to enter the unit.

 Sheri Swist is with the Housing Reform Coalition of Los Angeles.  For more information on this issue, and other SCEP and REAP issues, please call her at 310-869-5153.