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ENB-13.12 - Inspection and Warrant Policy

INSPECTION AND WARRANT POLICY
Administrative Rule Adopted by Bureau Pursuant to Rule-Making Authority
ARB-ENB-13.12

 
BACKGROUND:
 
The Bureau of Buildings is responsible for enforcing the building construction, zoning, property maintenance, and related statutes or ordinances which the Bureau of Buildings is authorized to enforce. These statutes or ordinances exist to protect the health, safety and welfare of Portland citizens and to contribute to neighborhood vitality by setting minimum standards for structures and surrounding property. Bureau inspectors enforce these statutes or ordinances through onsite inspections.
 
Property owners, occupants, or contractors request most field inspections. Properties are also inspected as the result of complaints or as part of a systematic inspection program. Bureau of Buildings staff inspect the property for compliance with the statutes or ordinances and contact property owners, contractors, property managers, or occupants with resulting issues. The Bureau of Buildings goal is voluntary compliance; however it is sometimes necessary to inspect or abate public nuisances or dangerous conditions on private property without the consent of the owner or occupants. Emergency, or summary inspections and abatements are also sometimes necessary to protect the public's health or safety.
 
In order to protect the health and safety of the public in a way that is consistent with the rights of citizens to be free from unreasonable intrusion onto their private property, this section sets forth the policy for Bureau of Buildings inspections on private property.
 
A. Inspector Safety: The safety of Bureau of Buildings field and office staff is of paramount importance. If at any time a field inspector believes their health or safety is threatened, the inspector will immediately end the inspection, seek a place of safety, and request assistance from the Inspections Supervisor, Police, or any other appropriate person.
 
B. Definitions:
1 Inspection: Means all entries onto private property to inspect or investigate for violations of statutes or ordinances the Bureau of Buildings is charged with enforcing, including inspections for abating hazardous conditions.
 
2. Occupied: Means a yard area of or structure on a property that reasonably appears to be in the possession of and actively used by a person with apparent authority to allow entry onto the property.
 
3. Person with Apparent Authority: Means a person, eighteen or older, who reasonably appears to be either the owner or any other person to whom the owner has granted care, custody, and control over the property.
 
4. Reasonable Cause: M- that the inspector has a reasonable basis for believing that violations of statutes or ordinances exist at the property based on an inspector's knowledge and experience of, including but not limited to, prior complaints and inspections involving the same property, property owner, property occupant, property manager, and any other entity.
 
5. Statute or Ordinance: Means Portland City Code Titles 24,25,26,27,28,29, 32 or 33; or any other City or State of Oregon statute, ordinance, regulation, rule, standard, or order which the Bureau of Buildings has been authorized to enforce.
 
6. Unobstructed: Means not barricaded, fenced off, secured or otherwise indicating an intention to prevent access and maintain privacy.
 
7. Unoccupied: Means a yard area of or structure on a property which does not reasonably appear to be in possession of and actively used by a person with apparent authority to allow entry onto the property.
 
8. Vacant: Means a yard area of or structure on an occupied property where no occupants are- present.
Except where otherwise specifically noted above, terms used in this policy will be interpreted according to the definitions in Titles 24,25,26,27,28,29,32 and 33. If not defined in those codes, these terms will be interpreted according to their ordinary and customary definition.
 
C. Inspections: In order to carry out the purposes of the statutes or ordinances, inspectors from the Bureau of Buildings, upon presenting appropriate credentials, are authorized to enter without delay onto property and to inspect the property for compliance with those statutes or ordinances. Inspections of private property will generally be performed during regular working hours and at other reasonable times, and within reasonable limits and in a reasonable manner. However, inspection supervisors may authorize inspections at other times in order to accommodate property owners, contractors, law enforcement agencies, or special programs authorized by the Director. Inspections may be made on private property without a warrant in the following circumstances.
1. Emergency Creates Immediate Hazards: Where emergency circumstances are found such that prior application for a warrant is not possible without severe immediate danger to the health, safety, or welfare of the occupants, or that of the general public, an inspection or abatement may occur without a warrant.
 
Whenever it reasonably appears to an inspector that violations exist to the extent that a severe immediate danger is posed to the health, safety, or welfare of the occupants, or that of the general public, the inspector may enter onto property without a warrant to verify the nature, severity, and extent of the violations or to abate such conditions giving rise to the immediate severe hazards.
 
2. Permission: Inspectors may enter the yards or structures of private property to make inspections when authorized by a person with apparent authority to allow entry onto the property. Permit inspections, tenant complaints concerning conditions in their dwelling or common areas, and requested recheck inspections from a property owner, contractor, or occupant are some examples of inspections made with permission. Inspectors who are uncertain about whether permission has been granted shall terminate the inspections and make a reasonable attempt to n o w the owner or other persons having charge or control of the property and request entry.
 
3. Occupied Property:
 
a. Areas Open to the General Public: Inspectors may enter areas of occupied private property if it reasonably appears that the area to be entered is open for use by the general public. Areas considered open for use by the general public include, but are not limited to, unobstructed common driveways for-commercial or multifamily structures, unobstructed common vehicle parking areas for commercial and multifamily structures, unobstructed common walkways leading up to the main entrance(s) of commercial and multifamily structures, unobstructed main hallway(d) of commercial and multifamily structures, and customer areas of retail businesses.
 
b. To Request Permission: If inspections can be made without entry onto the property to be inspected, the inspector shall do so. If the inspection requires entry onto portions of the property not open for use by the general public including structures, the inspector may enter onto unobstructed property and approach the main entrance of the main structure by the most direct route to request permission to inspect. The inspector shall present proper credentials, state the purpose of the proposed inspection and request entry. If no one with apparent authority to allow entry is present, if entry is denied, or if the property is obstructed, the inspector shall terminate the inspection and leave by the most direct route.
If at any time during an inspection it reasonably appears person with apparent authority to allow entry onto the property wishes the inspection to end, the inspector shall terminate the inspection and leave the premises by the most direct route
4. Unoccupied Property:
a. Entry into Yards: If inspections can be made without entry onto the property to be inspected, the inspector do so. Inspectors may enter unobstructed yard areas of- unoccupied property to make inspections. If at any time during an inspection it reasonably appears person with apparent authority. to allow entry onto the property orders the inspector to leave, the Inspector shall terminate the inspection and leave the premises by the most direct route.
 
b. Entry into Structures: If structures on the property are unoccupied and secured, the inspector shall first make a reasonable attempt to notify the owner or other persons having charge or control of the property and request entry to the structures. If entry is refused, or if a responsible party cannot be located, the inspector will notify the Inspections Supervisor. The Inspections Supervisor will then determine whether to start the process for obtaining a search warrant or other appropriate legal order from a court of competent jurisdiction. If the structures are unoccupied and open, the inspector may enter to determine if imminently hazardous conditions exist. If hazardous conditions exist, the inspector shall notify the owner of the condition and order the premises immediately secured against the entry by unauthorized persons.
D. Warrants: Except in the case of an emergency or other exception listed above, if an inspector is denied access to a property for the purpose of an inspection or abatement on the premises, such inspection shall not be conducted without an administrative search warrant or without such other authority as a court may grant in an appropriate civil proceeding. If an inspector is denied access to a property, he/she shall notify the Inspections Supervisor, who may then determine whether to start the process for obtaining an administrative search warrant or other appropriate legal order from a court of competent jurisdiction.
1. Issuance of Administrative Search Warrants: The Bureau shall apply to the Presiding Judge of Multnomah County, or for properties located in another county the appropriate local magistrate, for the issuance of administrative search warrants for inspections or nuisance abatements required or authorized by statutes or ordinances the Bureau of Buildings is charged with enforcing. The administrative search warrant is an order authorizing the Bureau to inspect or investigate at a designated property.
 
2. Applications for Issuance of Administrative Search Warrants; Requirements of Affidavit:
a. An application for an administrative search warrant shall be accompanied by a supporting affidavit particularly describing the following minimum elements: (1) the affiant's employment background and experience; (2) the statute or ordinance requiring or authorizing the inspection or nuisance abatement; (3) the address or other description of the property or structure to be inspected or at which the nuisance exists, which is sufficient to identify the property; and (4) the purpose for which the inspection or abatement is to be made. In addition, the affidavit shall contain either a statement that entry has been sought and refused, or facts or circumstances reasonably showing that the purposes of the inspection or abatement might be frustrated if entry were sought without an administrative search warrant. The affidavit shall also describe, with reasonable particularity, the violations of statute or ordinance existing, or believed to exist, with respect to the particular property or structure, or that an inspection is reasonably believed to be necessary in order to determine or verify whether any such violations exist at the property or structure.
 
b. The application shall identify proposed restrictions upon the service of the warrant, including a request that it be executed on any day of the week between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m., or if there are special circumstance preventing the effective execution between those hours, that it be executed at any additional or other time of the day or night.
 
c. Applications for administrative search warrants not involving abatements will request the warrant allow 10 days from its date for execution and return to the magistrate by whom it was issued. Applications for administrative search warrants involving abatements will request the warrant allow 15 days from its date for execution and return to the magistrate by whom it was issued.
3. Execution of Administrative Search Warrants:
a. Except as provided in subsection (b) of this section, in executing an administrative search warrant, the person authorized by the magistrate to execute the warrant shall, before entry, make a reasonable effort to present the person's credentials, authority and purpose to an occupant or person in possession of the property designated in the warrant and show the occupant or person in possession of the property the warrant or a copy thereof upon request.
 
b. In executing an administrative search warrant, the person authorized to execute the warrant may promptly enter the designated property if it is or reasonably believed to be vacant or unoccupied. Such person need not inform anyone of the person's authority and purpose, as prescribed in subsection (a) of this section.
 
c. A peace officer may be requested to assist in the execution of the administrative search warrant. Such peace officer may assist the person authorized to execute the warrant, including using any reasonable force necessary, to enter the property.
 
d. After serving the warrant, the inspector may make the authorized inspection.
 
e. If at any time during the inspection the inspector believes their health or safety is threatened, they will end the inspection, leave the premises by the most direct route, and contact the Inspection Supervisor, police, or other appropriate party for assistance.
 
f. For warrants involving abatements, the Return of Service will contain a description of the categories and quantity of items seized. The Bureau will maintain photographs of items seized in an abatement for such length of time as required by law and will make them available for copying or review by the public. The return of Service will also include a statement that photographs generally showing the items seized are available for review at the Bureau of Buildings.

 
HISTORY
Filed by Bureau of Development Services for inclusion in PPD September 29, 2004.
Originally published as Bureau of Buildings Procedure No. B-1-32 dated September 21, 1998.

Table of Contents
ENB-13.01 - Charges for Photocopying Material for the Public
ENB-13.02 - Charges for Researching Documents for the Public
ENB-13.03 - Faxing Permit Applications & Permits
ENB-13.04 - Fee Refunds
ENB-13.06 - Code Hearing Complaints
ENB-13.07 - Construction Contractor Registration
ENB-13.08 - Handling of Under/Over Payment of Mail-in Permits
ENB-13.09 - Confidentiality of Complainants
ENB-13.10 - Approval of Permanent Electrical Power to One and Two Family Dwellings
ENB-13.11 - Public Notice Requirements for Bureau Advisory Committees
ENB-13.12 - Inspection and Warrant Policy
ENB-13.13 - Service to Film Companies
ENB-13.14 - Plan Review for Amateur Radio Tower Antenna Structures
ENB-13.15 - Removal of Architectural Barriers in Existing Multi-Tenant Buildings
ENB-13.16 - Plan Review Procedure for Doctor's and Dentist's Office
ENB-13.17 - Residential Plumbing Plan Review and Field Issuance of Permits
ENB-13.18 - Standard for Granting Extensions to Correct Code Violations
ENB-13.19 - Sewer Repair Work Orders for 1 & 2 Family Dwellings
ENB-13.20 - Report on Program Improvements: Neighborhood Inspections and Code Enforcement
ENB-13.21 - Recurring Environmental Violation Enforcement Process and Fines
ENB-13.22 - Fee Waivers
ENB-13.23 - Permitting Original Art Murals