The Legal Landscape: Are We Invading The Tenant's Privacy? By Jeffrey Greenberger

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    UnknownQuestion: 

    Our facility uses a standard month-to-month agreement that forbids the storage of hazardous materials, munitions, etc. the local fire department is concerned that there may be hazardous materials in some units. they have suggested adding sprinklers and seismic bolting (which is not feasible in our facility) or a master key system so they can inspect units. We would prefer to provide occupants with a 30-day notice reminding them not to store hazardous materials and stating that management reserves the right to bring in k-9 units to detect any hazardous materials. the fire department’s concern with this is the invasion of privacy and issues that may occur with a false positive. If we bring in the dogs, are we invading our occupant’s privacy?

    Answer:

    This question is loaded with questions, which I will try to answer.

    First, your rental agreement should contain a provision giving you the right to enter for several different reasons, such as the event of an emergency; under the order of a governmental or quasi- governmental order, such as the order from a fire marshal; in the event of a court order, such as search warrant; and to per- form regular and necessary maintenance and inspections of the units. If you do not have this type of provision, consider adding it and distributing it to tenants as a modification of the rental agreement.

    As for a provision about drug sniffing dogs, I do not believe that needs to be in your rental as it is not a term and condition between yourself and your tenant. It is an expression of your willingness as a facility owner to allow the police onto the property to train/search for illegal activity. If you stop the training at some point and the provision remains in your agreement, people may claim they relied on the existence of this training to keep their units safe from crime.

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