Santa Maria - North County

Guadalupe rental property owners say annual inspection is illegal

Guadalupe rental property owners say...

GUADALUPE, Calif. - Some residents in Guadalupe are angry at the city for what they say is an illegal search and seizure of their homes.

Tonight an attorney representing these homeowners is demanding the city repeal this rental-housing inspection program.

Property owners in Guadalupe is pretty fired up. They say what the city is doing is unconstitutional - but the city says they're not doing anything wrong at all.  

Josephine Serrano and her husband are the proud owners of a quaint, nearly 100-year-old home off of Olivera Street, in Guadalupe.

"His grandparents built the home in 1923," rental property owner Josephine Serrano said.

The home was passed on to them and they now rent it to their daughter.

Because they own the home and rent it to someone - the city municipal code makes her a business owner and requires her to have a business license, which she pays an annual fee for and requires her to agree to an annual inspection of her rental.

"I don't exactly feel real comfortable about that," Serrano said. 

The annual inspection also requires that she pay a fee for the inspection.

"As far as the fee goes, I'm ok with that, I'm just not sure about them coming to check the home every year," Serrano said. 

At Tuesday night's City Council meeting, a group of property owners were there with their attorney saying that making property owners who rent to people agree to an annual inspection is a violation of the Fourth amendment - arguing that that's illegal search and seizure.

"Say a fire or something was in danger in the home, then I could see people coming in the home, I don't know if I fully agree with someone just coming in yearly" Serrano said. 

Others had even stronger opinions, like Lupe Alvarez, who owns several rental properties around town.

"Well first of all this is very hard for us," rental property owner Lupe Alvarez said. 

Alvarez is a former mayor of the city, so this puts him in a pretty tough spot.

"I don't want to do this but we are in support of repealing the inspections.. and what they're doing is searching your property without a search warrant  and that affects our renters, that affects us and they got to follow the constitution, if they're not following the constitution that's breaking the constitution and that's illegal," Alvarez said. 

City attorney David Fleishman told us over the phone that the city is doing nothing wrong.

Alvarez says this needs to be repealed and that the fees are all about the money.

"And I think they've proven that here in the last couple of years, I know they need to raise the funds to pay the bills but they can't just keep going  after the same business owners and expect to make it as a city," Alvarez said. 

A lot of people told us they were nervous to put their face on this story, saying they were afraid of being targeted by the city. We reached out to the City Attorney for his response to this matter but we haven't heard back as of when this article was published. 

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