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CalAttorney2, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 10220
Experience:  I am a civil litigation attorney with experience representing HOAs, homeowners, businesses and others in real estate matters.
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State inspector found a key, entered my house. Is it legal?

Customer Question

A state inspector found a key I had above a door, entered in my house and looked around. I didn't know he was there and no one gave him consent to enter. He then claimed I needed a plumbing permit, he was there to inspect a gas line. He told me if I hung any drywall he would make me tear it down.
This is in Idaho
I have not talked to a lawyer yet
The plumbing is new, done by the previous owner. I have paid for two electrical permits and a gas permit, but I have pulled drywall off etc. I had to do the wiring.
I just want to know if I can force him to pull the lock on the gas meter, he passed it, and can he force me to get a plumbing permit for work done by a previous owner... and was it legal for him to enter my home? I have him on a security camera.
Submitted: 2 months ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Phillips Esq. replied 2 months ago.
I need more information.
Could you clarify what you meant by this question:?
" I just want to know if I can force him to pull the lock on the gas meter, he passed it,"
Thank you for your cooperation.
Customer: replied 2 months ago.
The house was heated with propane. I had natural gas installed. Avista Utilities places a locking pin type device on the meter that the inspector is to take off. I hired a local company to install the line from the meter Avista installed to the heater, which was less than 2 feet of pipe. They charged me $469.00, which included the state inspection fee, I have paid this. He showed me the printout showing the inspector passed it. The locking pin remains on the meter, likely until I purchase a plumbing permit which is what he said in a voicemail he wanted me to do. They contactor told me he had no communication about my job with the inspector, they apply for the permit online and notify them online when the job is done. The inspector looked my number up, presumably from the other permits I have pulled as a homeowner and told me I needed a plumbing permit because he noticed plumbing work that was not to code and if I covered the plumbing with drywall he would make me tear it off. My drywaller is scheduled next week. Plumbing location was not changed, I performed minor repairs and the previous owner performed major repairs. I have not had a plumber in the house. I see on my security camera the inspector found a key above the door and let himself in, then he called me afterwards with the voicemail threat of making me tear the drywall out. I am guessing he went into the bathroom which is not near the gas line. He tried the door first, then walked around the house, then appeared to look through a window, then saw the key and went in. No one gave him consent to enter, I was a mile away and could have been there if he called in short order.
Expert:  Phillips Esq. replied 2 months ago.
Thank you for the detailed information.
Your questions:
I just want to know if I can force him to pull the lock on the gas meter, he passed it
Response 1: Regrettably, no unless you comply with his Order to get a plumbing permit even though that is quite unfair.
and can he force me to get a plumbing permit for work done by a previous owner...
Response 2: Unfortunately, yes. If the work is not up to code, it does not matter who pulled the original permit. What matters is that you are the owner of the house and you need to comply with the Order.
and was it legal for him to enter my home. I have him on a security camera.
Response 3: No, it was not. You can file a complaint against him with his Supervisor. However, that would probably make him mad at you and very difficult to deal with (sigh).
I am sorry for being the bearer of bad news here.
Best wishes. Thank you for your cooperation.
Customer: replied 2 months ago.
As far as I know, no permit was pulled for plumbing by the pervious owner or me. His voicemail said he had looked and there was no plumbing permit. It would be clear to someone who went in the bathroom that plumbing work was done as the pipes are much newer than the house. Your response is yes he can illegally enter my home, snoop around, then require me to purchase a permit and fix plumbing work that was not done by me? If I was with him, I would not have let him snoop around my home. I would have walked him to the one place the gas line enters the house. I'm not really interested in complaining to his supervisor, I would like to know if I can have him charged with 18-7034 Unlawful entry and of course I don't want to purchase any more permits.
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 2 months ago.
Dear Customer,
Probably the fastest and easiest way to get your building project complete is to hire a plumber (if necessary), get your plumbing issues up to code (permitted, etc.), and ignore the trespass on your property by the state inspector.
However, if you wish to be more aggressive about the trespass issue you can be.
Just because the individual that was trespassing happened to be a state employee, does not give him a right to do so. You can sue both him, and the department, for the trespass. Suing government agencies gets tricky, so whether or not you want to include them probably depends on whether or not you are able to find a law firm that is willing to take your claim (look for law firms that handle what we call "1983" claims (named after 42 USC 1983 - the Federal code section that authorizes civil suits against government employees in certain instances), an attorney or law firm that represents citizens in these types of suits would be ideal).
However, you do not have to name the entity, you can name only the inspector and sue him alone as an individual without worrying about the governmental immunity issues, etc. The fact that you have this individual on camera makes things much easier to prevail (and a law firm very well may be interested).
You can find local attorneys using the State and local Bar Association directories, or private directories such as;; or (I personally find to be the most user friendly).

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