Search and Seizure FAQ

Can my roommate -- or my landlord -- give the police permission to search my apartment?

The police may search your apartment if the person in charge of the premises gives permission. If you and your roommate share common areas (such as the kitchen and living room), your roommate can authorize a search of those areas. But your roommate cannot give permission to search your separate bedroom.

(For more, see Where the Police Can Look When Your Roommate Consents to a Search and If my roommate tells the cops they can come in, but I tell them they can’t, can they?)

Similarly, your landlord cannot give permission to search your apartment. However, if the police can point to circumstances that would justify immediate entry -- such as the sound of a ferocious fight or the smell of burning marijuana -- they may enter without permission from anyone.

(For more, see Can my landlord give consent for a search of my apartment? and Can a landlord let the police search an apartment after an eviction?)

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