You may have handed over the keys to your tenant, but did you know that you can still be held liable for what your tenants do in the rental unit? If you don’t strictly screen your tenants, there’s a chance that you’ll end up with ones that will do the wrong things. Yes, we’re talking about tenants that are doing drugs or worse – making drugs. That’s why you should always hire a property management company that has a strict tenant screening process in place.
Whatever your tenants are doing that involves drugs, it’s unarguable that illegal drugs can put a damper on the entire neighborhood. Sadly, it doesn’t end there – drugs are linked to other crimes, and this can put your entire multi-unit property at risk.
Keep in mind that you have a duty to every tenant to keep them safe at all times. In case you’ve discovered that your tenants are involved in illegal drugs and are selling or using them on your property, don’t panic. We know you’ve got a lot of concerns, so we’re going to talk about each one of them in this article.
Why should you care if tenants are involved in illegal activities?
If you rarely visit your investment property, you’re probably unaware of what your tenants have been up to. You might be oblivious that they’ve been doing drugs since the day they moved in.
It’s tempting to not be involved in your tenant’s business, but you have to. There is, of course, a fine line between being involved and being intrusive. What’s important is that you are aware of what goes on so that in case your tenants are up to no good, you can do something about it as soon as possible.
Let’s say that your tenant is selling illegal drugs on your rental property. Not only is this unlawful, but it also puts the whole neighborhood, as well as your property, in danger. Laws vary by state, but in general, here’s what can happen to the real estate investor if their tenants are involved in illegal activities:
- Tenants or other neighbors may be able to sue you on the grounds that your rental property puts the public in danger.
- If you allow your tenants to engage in drug dealing on the rental property, there’s a chance that you’re going to face criminal prosecution.
- The government may confiscate your investment property.
- The presence of crime may drastically decrease the value of your investment property.
As a landlord, you need to ensure that your tenants aren’t a cause for concern. To do this, look out for the signs that your tenants are doing or using illegal drugs. If you can’t check on your property, the least you could do is to hire a property management agent to keep an eye on your tenants for you.
What are some signs that your tenants are using or selling drugs?
Whatever you do, you should never come to a conclusion about your tenants based on suspicions. It would be unlawful to evict a tenant without first validating your “gut feeling”. Evicting a tenant without legal grounds will get you in big trouble.
The best way to be certain that your tenant is using drugs is to conduct regular inspections of the rental property. This will give you and your property management firm the opportunity to have a look around, and to check for signs of illegal activity like:
#1 Odd Odors
If you or other tenants notice strange odors around the area, consider this as a red flag. There’s a good chance that your tenants are producing drugs using chemicals such as ammonia. In this situation, you should inspect the house, but be sure to inform your tenant of the inspection beforehand. Even if you have suspicions, you still can’t enter the property without prior notice.
#2 Foot Traffic
Another sign that a tenant is doing drugs is that they have a lot of visitors entering the rental unit at odd times. They’ll have people coming over late at night with no intention to stay overnight. However, be careful not to assume – it’s possible that your tenant simply has a big social circle.
#3 Unusually High Utilities
There’s no way that one tenant’s water bill would amount to hundreds of dollars a month. If you notice a spike in your tenant’s utilities, they’re likely making drugs. Again, there might be a valid explanation as to why their bills are above-average, so make sure to take a closer look.
What should you do if you suspect that a tenant is using drugs?
Although doing drugs is a violation of the lease agreement, you shouldn’t evict the tenant on those grounds. Even if you’re 99% certain that they’re involved in unlawful activities, you should never evict a tenant if you can’t provide clear evidence. Furthermore, confronting a tenant for doing illegal drugs puts your life in danger, so it’s best to be safe.
In case you suspect that your tenant is engaged in illegal drugs, report it to the authorities right away. Again, you need legitimate evidence to evict your tenant, and that is something that only the authorities can do. They’ll investigate the tenant and get in touch with you, that way, you can lawfully carry out the eviction in the event that your suspicions are correct.
You should also consider consulting your real estate attorney through your property management company. This is especially true if you aren’t familiar with federal and state laws regarding illegal drugs on rental properties. Having an attorney by your side can save you from getting in legal trouble.
How can you prevent illegal activities on your rental property?
No one wants to deal with tenants that are engaged in illegal drugs. To reduce the chance of this happening in the first place, hire a property management company that conducts strict tenant screening. Your property management agent will be able to “weed out” the tenants that will likely cause trouble. Furthermore, they will conduct routine inspections to make sure that your tenants aren’t making, selling, or using drugs of any kind.
The expert property managers at Luxury Property Care are trained to deal with this matter. With us, you can rest assured that your property, your tenants, and your neighborhood are safe from those that are up to no good.