Park Forest, IL

Black v. Village of Park Forest
Fourth Amendment Rental Inspection 

The Institute represented rental housing tenants in Park Forest, Ill., in its challenge to a housing inspection law that allow local officials to conduct warrantless, nonconsensual inspections of rented single-family homes. Government officials justified their inspections on the basis of preserving "the housing stock of the community," a purpose that if upheld by the courts could just as easily apply to all residential property.  Our objective in this lawsuit was simple: if government officials wish to enter rented property, they must first ask for and receive the explicit consent of tenants. If tenants do not wish to grant inspectors access, they must obtain a search warrant based on reasonable belief (probable cause) that a housing code violation exists.

The law allowed government inspectors to roam through bedrooms and bathrooms without the knowledge or consent of tenants. The Institute sought to protect the Fourth Amendment rights of renters and to further recognition that Fourth Amendment rights are property rights.

On February 23, 1998, Judge Joan B. Gottschall struck down over half of the Village's inspection law as a violation of the Fourth Amendment. The court denied judgment for both sides on one of the counts in the complaint and set the case for trial. However, rather than continuing to defend the constitutionality of the ordinance, the Village decided during the summer of 1998 to drop its inspection program entirely, handing the tenants in Park Forest a victory for their property and privacy rights.

Essential Background


Backgrounder: Searching Without Consent; Government’s Assault on the Sanctity of the Home

Client Photo - none available

Client Video - none available

Latest Release: Private Property Rights Vindicated, Village of Park Forest Accepts Settlement In Constitutional Challenge Filed by Housing Tenants (April 9, 1999)

Legal Briefs and Decisions

none available

Launch Release: U.S. District Court Protects Sanctity of Renters' Home, Strikes Down Housing Inspection Law (December 21, 1995)




Case Timeline

Filed Lawsuit:


December 21, 1995

Court Filed:


U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois

Key Dates(s):


April 12, 1999:  Village of Park Forest Board of Trustees approved a settlement agreement that officially ended its mandatory inspection program for single-family rental homes



Case Completed; Victory for Property Owners, Tenants & IJ




Additional Releases

Maps, Charts and Facts

Release: U.S. District Court Protects Sanctity of Renters' Home, Strikes Down Housing Inspection Law (February 27, 1998)

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Op-eds, News Articles and Links

Article: Is Your Home a Castle? Not if You’re a Renter (January 3, 1996)

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