The Appellate Division decided yesterday, in the matter of State v. Heine, that a when a property owner refuses to permit access to a residence for inspection by local officials, the proper remedy is for the municipal inspectors to secure an administrative search warrant. The court ruled refusing access does not constitute a violation of a local ordinance in the absence of a search warrant.
In Heine, a variety of municipal health, construction and fire officials sought to inspect a residential property owned by the defendant. She refused them access to the property, believing it was a violation of her constitutional rights.
Following three trials, she was found guilty in municipal court of various local ordinance violations related to the lack of access for the inspections. However, the Appellate Division held that although an administrative search to the warrant requirement exists in closely regulated industries, that exception does not apply in the context of a private home.