Until June 2021, it was well-established that a person staying in a hotel had a reasonable expectation of privacy in the rented room. Equally well-established was that this expectation of privacy was “[n]o less than a tenant of a house.” Thus, a person could expect to be free of unreasonable intrusions into his hotel room by police or management.

But, then the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals decided differently. In Tilghman v. State, the Court established a new rule of law that “upon taking affirmative steps to evict a guest, control of the hotel room reverts to the hotel” such that the hotel—not the guest—now has the reasonable expectation of privacy in the hotel room, and can therefore consent to a search of the room by police, or undertake entry into the hotel room.

Problematically, the Court of Criminal Appeals does not think it necessary that the occupant of the hotel room have notice that they are being evicted; only that “a guest who is engaging in behavior that he reasonably should know is a violation of hotel policy, even if that policy is not provided to him in writing, should also reasonably know that he may be evicted for engaging in such prohibited conduct once the hotel staff becomes aware of it” (emphasis added). So, basically, the Court thinks the occupant of a hotel knows or should know what behavior violates hotel policy, even where the policy is unwritten, and should expect that every (any?) violation of hotel policy warrants, or could warrant, eviction.

So much for “no less than a tenant of a house.”