Virginia law firm helping group sue Orange City over rental regulations

Updated: Jun. 8, 2021 at 9:13 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - A national law firm based in Virginia is helping a group of people sue Orange City, a town of roughly 6,000 people in Sioux County, and the case could end similar rental inspection policies beyond Orange City.

Lawyers for the group said Orange City’s regulations for renters are unconstitutional. The group suing Orange City is a mix of renters and developers. Their lawyers are from the Institute for Justice, which is a libertarian law firm, said the city’s rental inspection policy allows the city to use administrative warrants to search a home instead of a judge’s warrant with probable cause. They believe this type of search violates the U.S. Constitution’s fourth amendment, which protects people from unreasonable searches.

State law requires cities with more than 15,000 people to have a rental inspection program. But the form of those laws can vary from city to city.

Orange City has over 480 rental units and around 100 rental property owners.

Robert Peccola, who is the attorney from the Institute for Justice, said it choose to sue Orange City’s ordinance because their inspection policy is particularly broad.

“Essentially, inspectors have unfettered access to every square inch of the home,” Peccola said. “Any kind of code violation is on the table, which means any area of the house can be searched.”

Earl Woudstra, who is the city administrator for Orange City, said its inspection process is not invasive and its purpose is to provide a safe and healthy environment. He added that the city believes its inspection process is also fair and reasonable.

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