What if Your Tenant is Doing Drugs?

By E-Renter Tenant Screening
Posted on February 16, 2010 under Eviction, Landlord and Tenant FAQs | icon: commentBe the First to Comment

no-drugeChristopher is no newbie landlord. He has purchased and rehabbed several properties in his city, and is running his investment property business full time. His tenants are a mix of couples, families, and singles from every income tier and diverse backgrounds. He’s had his share of problem tenants, but the only real problems he’s had to face are late rent payments.

Until a few months ago. Christopher surprised a tenant—although completely unintentionally—and discovered signs of drug use in his property. Here’s what happened: while doing some routine maintenance at Apartment #1 of a duplex, he realized he needed to shut off the water main. Unfortunately, the main fed both living units. So Christopher knocked on the door of Apartment #2 to see if anyone was home, and to let them know the water would be off for a few minutes.

When his tenant opened the door, she appeared surprised at seeing Christopher; she quickly stepped out and closed the door behind her. While Christopher maintained his tenant’s privacy by not looking into the apartment, he couldn’t help but notice the odor wafting out the door and into his nostrils! It was definitely marijuana.

Christopher informed the tenant of the impending water shut off and left, feeling conflicted about how to handle the situation. But he soon made a decision.

If you were the landlord what would you do?

A. Nothing. Marijuana should be legal.
B. Nothing. If the tenant is not hurting anyone, it’s none of my business.
C. Have a talk with the tenant. Let her know that illegal drugs are not tolerated on my property and give her written warning that the next time it happens, I will start eviction proceedings.
D. Start eviction proceedings immediately. Illegal drug use harms all my tenants and the community and could make me liable for any related property damage or personal injury.

Christopher chose door D. Backed by a solid rental agreement that clearly states illegal drugs are not allowed on his property, Christopher did what he always did when it came to handling tenant issues: he enforced the terms of the lease, as agreed to by the tenant.

Christopher did not want to evict this tenant. He had no prior issues with her, and she paid her rent on time. But he strongly believes in treating all tenants equally and enforcing his lease and tenant rules fairly. He felt he had no choice other than to evict this lease-breaking tenant.

The outcome of this story? While evicting tenantsis never pleasant, Christopher discovered he did it just in time to prevent the occupants of Apartment #1 from moving away. Turns out they had noticed marijuana odors from the apartment next door for months and no longer wanted their kids subjected to it. When they discovered their neighbor had been evicted, they thanked Christopher for keeping of the duplex drug-free and enforcing the lease.

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