A City of Los Angeles ordinance required hotel operators to make hotel records available to any LAPD officer for inspection at any time. On June 22, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States found this ordinance unconstitutional. The Court decided that allowing police officers to inspect hotel records without advance notice or probable cause violates the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures.
Ohio’s state laws regarding hotels relate to building safety and hotel permits, focusing on compliance with the state fire marshal and the assistant state fire marshals, who normally do not need warrants to complete inspections. Local ordinances in Ohio have addressed this issue and been reviewed by the courts. In 2005, the Court of Appeals for Cuyahoga County held that a City of Strongsville ordinance was unconstitutional when it provided that motels or lodging houses were subject to official inspection “at any time,” and that guest registers “shall always be open for inspection.”
This Supreme Court decision will impact any similar local ordinances. It should ensure that hotel operators and those in similar roles have the opportunity for judicial review of requests by local government authorities. The decision equates compelled government inspection of commercial records to a “search,” thereby requiring judicially sanctioned warrants and subpoenas, prior to forcing a review. All in all, this decision should help guarantee the constitutional rights of hotels to protect the privacy of their customers.
For more information, contact Pete Wade