Can an owner or inhabitant of real property give police the right to search property when a co-owner or coinhabitant objects?

The Appeals Court of Massachusetts held that the police could search a closed suitcase in a common closet of a bedroom when given permission to do so by the defendant's coinhabitant. Commonwealth v. Hernandez,93 Mass. App. Ct. 172, 2018 Mass. App. LEXIS 48 (Mass. App. Ct. 2018). This ruling was based on traditional rules of property law that give tenants in common rights of access to the property they both own. The court noted that any coinhabitant had the right to consent to a search of her home, her bedroom, and her closet because these were areas where both inhabitants shared joint access or control.

The Supreme Court reached the opposite conclusion in the case of Georgia v. Randolph,547 U.S. 103 (2006) when it held that the police could not enter property owned by a married couple when one (but not the other) objected to entry.

The Massachusetts case is consistent with the way most states interpret the common law of property while the Supreme Court ruling is not.