Rental housing inspection challenge can proceed

The Minnesota Supreme Court Wednesday ruled a constitutional challenge to Red Wing's rental housing inspection law can go forward.

After more than five years of litigation from a group of tenants and landlords who say Red Wing's inspection law violates their rights, the Minnesota Supreme Court said that lower court judges can decide the constitutionality of the law, which allows inspectors to enter rental housing without consent or evidence of code violations.

Lower courts said they lacked the jurisdiction to rule. The Supreme Court's decision says the courts do have that jurisdiction, and the case now returns to the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

The case addresses a trend among cities toward stronger enforcement of rental inspections, said Anthony Sanders, an attorney for The Institute for Justice, Minnesota Chapter, who represents the landlords and tenants.

"What we are hoping for in this case ultimately is a ruling that stops these cities from these gross rights violations," Sanders said.

The city's housing policy is being unfairly targeted, said John Baker, the attorney representing Red Wing.

"There is nothing extraordinary about what Red Wing is requiring of landlords," Baker said. "We won the case below. The court dismissed it, and the district court, and the court of appeals affirmed that. So, we certainly haven't lost. We just haven't won yet."

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