In a blatant attack on home owners constitutional rights and individual privacy, Clark County has instituted “outrageously intrusive” home-sharing regulations that force homeowners renting out their properties for less than 30 days to maintain video surveillance of people entering and exiting the property, a mandate now being challenged in the Nevada Supreme Court by the Goldwater Institute and the Liberty Justice Center.
In a brief filed yesterday, these organizations argued that Clark County’s regulations pose an undue violation of the U.S. Constitution, setting a dangerous precedent that undermines the historical belief that “your home is your castle.” An overreaching county directive requires property owners to indiscriminately turn over sensitive financial data and home surveillance footage to the government without a warrant. This, coupled with requiring homeowners to adhere to unwarranted government inspections within one’s home, including bedrooms and bathrooms, has ignited a firestorm of criticisms and a call for protecting citizens’ rights to privacy and against undue government surveillance.
“That’s unconstitutional. The U.S. and Nevada Supreme Courts have repeatedly made clear that renters, hotel guests, and even people staying in a tent overnight have the same constitutional rights against warrantless searches as any homeowner,” said Timothy Sandefur, Vice President for Legal Affairs at the Goldwater Institute.
Drawing parallels with past rulings where the U.S. and Nevada Supreme Courts have stood firm against unwarranted searches, the supporters of this challenge evoked a 2015 pivotal case, “Patel,” which saw the U.S. Supreme Court strike down a Los Angeles law mandating hotels to provide police access to their guest registers upon request. In 1989, The Nevada Supreme Court abolished a similar law compelling massage parlors to release customer data to the police.
Adding fuel fire is the county’s bizarre definition of “parties,” putting limits on the number of people allowed in a rented space, preventing Las Vegas renters from hosting social gatherings. The regulations are absurd, outlawing gatherings exceeding “more than two people per bedroom” in a short-term rental home.
“In other words, if you rent a house with two bedrooms, you’re only allowed to have four people at your Thanksgiving. It doesn’t matter whether you’re making noise or not, or whether you’ve got too many cars parked in the street or not—the county is going to tell you what kinds of social gatherings you’re allowed to host,” said Sandefur.
Not only are these intrusive regulations blatantly infringing on constitutional protections that do not distinguish between renters and owners, or short and long-term rental periods, they have created an environment that opposes home-sharing — of course, you can bet MGM Resorts had their hand in crafting the legislation.
As Clark County stands defiant, imposing arbitrary restrictions that don’t just resonate as “obnoxious” but as an affront to legal principles older than the county itself, it has raised questions regarding the extent of the county’s continued government overreach into our’ daily lives. Throughout the so-called COVID pandemic, the county used the crisis to push dozens of unconstitutional freedom killing mandates with little opposition.
Echoing the sentiments of law enforcement officers who favor tackling real crimes over monitoring innocent civilians, the Goldwater Institute insisted that it is high time that Clark County ceased its unwarranted meddling and started respecting the foundational rights of both homeowners and renters.
“Obviously, the government has a legitimate role to play in prohibiting nuisances such as loud noises or traffic problems in communities. But the way to do that is to target the nuisances—to punish people who create loud noises or traffic problems in communities—not to dictate to people what they can do in their own homes, or to force them to act as the government’s spy by recording people’s information and handing it over to the government without a warrant, or to force them to submit to searches of their private spaces. Conscientious law enforcement officers themselves have made clear that they would rather combat actual crimes and nuisances than spend their time patrolling innocent people who happen to be using private property in the ways they see fit,” said Sandefur.