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UPDATE: Landlord and Tenants Temporarily Halt Illinois City’s Unconstitutional Home Inspections

Federal court enters agreed order ceasing warrantless inspections in Zion, Ill. as legal challenge proceeds

CHICAGO—This morning, after a hearing in U.S. District Court in Chicago, the city of Zion, Ill. agreed to cease all inspections, fines and notices against landlord Josefina Lozano or any of her tenants. Facing ruinous fines for refusing warrantless inspections, Josefina and three of her tenants—Della Sims, Dorice Pierce and Robert Pierce—teamed up with the Institute for Justice (IJ) to file a federal lawsuit fighting Zion’s unconstitutional ordinance.

Zion’s rental inspection ordinance gives it license to fine landlords up to $750 a day, or even revoke landlords’ right to rent property altogether, unless landlords force tenants to allow the city’s unconstitutional searches. Judge Mary M. Rowland asked the city to enter into a voluntary agreement in which it agreed not to punish Josefina or her tenants for refusing Zion’s unconstitutional demands. The city had previously sent Josefina a threatening letter giving her until September 29, 2019 to comply—or face fines that could reach five or even six figures.

“We are overjoyed that, for the time being, Josefina and her tenants will not be punished for standing up for their constitutional rights,” said IJ Attorney Rob Peccola. “Courts again and again have affirmed that renters do not have to open up their homes to government inspectors without a warrant. Today’s order is temporary but we expect it will be extended as we challenge the city’s unconstitutional ordinance.”

“I’m grateful that, for now, Zion will not be able to punish me for standing up for my tenants’ rights,” said Josefina Lozano. “The people who rent from me deserve the same protection of their constitutional rights as homeowners.”

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