Landlords and tenants joined forces against the City of Los Angeles by filing a class action lawsuit in federal court on February 22, 2017, alleging that the current Systematic Code Enforcement Program (SCEP) inspections violate the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. The law firm representing the landlords and tenants is Quinn Emanuel, the largest business litigation law firm in the world.
Currently, the City conducts SCEP inspections on every residential rental unit in Los Angeles about once every three to four years. An inspector, who is vested with police power himself or herself, and can also call the actual police to accompany them, comes out to the residence and proceeds to search through every room of the home for possible code violations. Under the Los Angeles Municipal Code, if a resident does not allow the inspector to enter, they are guilty of a misdemeanor violation and subject to a $1,000.00 fine. This renders all consent to the searches coerced and invalid.
Furthermore, there is no opportunity for the resident to object to the search and present their reasons for doing so in front of a detached neutral party as required by Patel v. City of Los Angeles, a recent United States Supreme Court Case. This creates the opportunity for abuse of authority that is precisely what the Fourth Amendment is in place to protect.
The fact that you have inspectors vested with police power, including the possibility of calling the actual police to come in without a proper warrant; threats of criminal violations and fines; and coerced consent, the SCEP inspections being conducted by the City of Los Angeles are unconstitutional.
For more information on this and other lawsuits concerning SCEP and REAP please contact Sheri Swist at the Housing Reform Coalition of Los Angeles, (310) 869-5153.