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  • 4th amendment and rental

    Hi,

    I read a story in the news today about a busted meth lab. The suspect was renting the house where he lived and was producing meth - in the kitchen I assume.
    The local deputies asked the suspect for permission to search the house and was turned down. They then received permission from the owner of the house, searched the place, found stuff and the suspect was arrested.

    Now, while I don't mind seeing a meth cooker locked up, I was wondering if there might be a 4th amendment issue here? I debated this with a coworker and his opinion was that the owner of the property is responsible for any illegal activities taking place and because of that, he is allowed to grant permission to search the house.
    On the other hand, would you not have a reasonable expectation of privacy, even if you're just renting?

    I tend to think the officers probably wouldn't have handled the matter the way they did unless they knew it to be allowed, but I'm still curiuos to hear what your thoughts are? I browsed through some supreme court rulings but couldn't find anything that would apply to rental properties.

  • #2
    There is not enough information to answer this question.

    Was it a common area of the home? Did the home owner live with the renter? How long was there a rental agreement?

    Most of the time if one conerned party says no to a consent the courts do not like you going to another person and asking. Much like husband/wife cases etc.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by skp View Post
      Hi,

      I read a story in the news today about a busted meth lab. The suspect was renting the house where he lived and was producing meth - in the kitchen I assume.
      The local deputies asked the suspect for permission to search the house and was turned down. They then received permission from the owner of the house, searched the place, found stuff and the suspect was arrested.

      Now, while I don't mind seeing a meth cooker locked up, I was wondering if there might be a 4th amendment issue here? I debated this with a coworker and his opinion was that the owner of the property is responsible for any illegal activities taking place and because of that, he is allowed to grant permission to search the house.
      On the other hand, would you not have a reasonable expectation of privacy, even if you're just renting?

      I tend to think the officers probably wouldn't have handled the matter the way they did unless they knew it to be allowed, but I'm still curiuos to hear what your thoughts are? I browsed through some supreme court rulings but couldn't find anything that would apply to rental properties.
      I am sure there is more to the story than this. However, to answer your question, no, we cannot go in a rental just because the landlord said we could unless there is exigent circumstances.

      Comment


      • #4
        Only way the owner could give valid consent in this case would be if he actually lived in the residence. And even in that case, he could only give consent to common areas and his own areas, not the areas that the renter holds as private.
        Walking the line...all give some...some give all!

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        • #5
          Originally posted by hooknbook View Post
          Only way the owner could give valid consent in this case would be if he actually lived in the residence. And even in that case, he could only give consent to common areas and his own areas, not the areas that the renter holds as private.
          Well, I guess I would just have to assume this to be the case then. The article didn't say anything about that, but maybe "for once" the media got it wrong..

          Although.. if the owner does live there too, would he not be considered guilty by association as well?

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Name Taken View Post
            There is not enough information to answer this question.

            Was it a common area of the home? Did the home owner live with the renter? How long was there a rental agreement?

            Most of the time if one conerned party says no to a consent the courts do not like you going to another person and asking. Much like husband/wife cases etc.
            The article didn't say anything about this. But I'm a little surprised that you can't go to someone else to ask for consent if you're turned down by the first person you asked.

            Anyway, thank you and the others who responded for your answers. I'll keep an eye on the news to see if I can find something else about the case. The article stated that there was going to be an arraignment hearing today.

            Comment


            • #7
              Really need more information to give you a decent reply. I'll attempt a very general one. If the owner lived off the premises, he could not give a valid consent for Officers to search. A Search Warrant would be required. OTH, if the owner lives on the premises, and the object of the search is in a "common area: of the house, the consent would "probably" be valid. Notice, I said probably. Again, more specific information is needed to give you a really comprehensive answer. We have a few Attorneys on the forum, and hopefully, they could provide you with some additional insights.

              Comment


              • #8
                Sorry, been busy the last few days. Thank you again to those who responded.
                The article mentioned the suspect's name, so I searched that county's jail records and found him as being charged with possession of MJ, 1 ounce or less. (The article did mention MJ being found as well.)
                Unless there's another guy that goes by the same name, I suppose this means the meth lab charges were thrown out.
                I've seen idiots on meth and was really hoping the charges would stick.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I can't give you a citation and this is from years ago so it may have been overturned, but it used to be that if a tenant was behind in their rent by even one day, a landlord could give consent to search.

                  Anyone have access to Lexis to research this?
                  Going too far is half the pleasure of not getting anywhere

                  Comment

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