Illegal activity in a rental unit can cost landlords a lot of money. No matter how careful the tenant is with their illegal activity, neighbors will suspect something. People will become less likely to want to stay in an area with suspected illegal activity, and this reputation will prevent potential tenants from being interested. The problem doesn’t just impact you today, but far into the future. Once your property has a reputation for illegal activity, it can be difficult to get rid of that stigma.

Warning Signs of Illegal Drug Activity
The most common illegal activity carried on in rental units is the sale, manufacture, or use of drugs. Depending on what the tenant is doing, you may see the following signs:

  • A large amount of people walking to the unit and only staying a short time
  • Excessive late-night activity, especially on weekends
  • Inside the unit, you may notice a powdery substance or what looks like old-dried soap
  • Pipes and other drug paraphernalia may be lying around
  • People bringing in valuable items and leaving without them
  • Syringes left in or around dumpsters

Since it is more likely to be your maintenance crew who will go inside to make repairs, they should be trained in what to look for. The landlord may notice that the person never calls for maintenance even though the unit may look more run-down and unkempt. The person may also be late on rent payment on a consistent basis.

Indications That a Tenant May be Selling or Manufacturing Drugs
When you have a tenant who makes his payments and even drives a fancy car with no obvious means of support, it should make you suspicious. If it appears that he never leaves for a job and yet continues to pay the bills, you may wonder where the money is coming from.
Other indications of a drug operation include:

  • Lights left on in a basement or attic
  • Utility bills that have spiked
  • High humidity in the unit
  • Electrical wiring that has been tampered with
  • Strong ammonia smell or other chemical odors
  • Chemistry equipment in the unit or in the trash
  • Bottles and jugs with unidentifiable liquids

If a tenant consistently pays in cash or pays up front for several months, it may be an indicator. If you notice deadbolts on bedroom doors or blacked-out windows, it may also indicate that something is going on. Large amounts of baking soda, electrical cords, or other items may suggest they are being used in the making of some type of drug.

Steps a Landlord Should Take
If you suspect that you have a tenant using, selling, or manufacturing an illegal substance, it is your responsibility to take action. You must be able to prove illegal activity is taking place on the property before you can request an eviction notice.
Pay attention to any complaints you receive from neighbors and write all of the information down. Check with police to find out if your tenant has been arrested for drug activity. While that doesn’t mean it has occurred on your property or that you can evict him, it does add credence to your case. Always work with an attorney who specializes in evictions to ensure that you have solid representation in the event that an eviction becomes necessary.
Protect your property, your current tenants, and your future income by being alert to any potential illegal activity on your property. The repercussions for ignoring it can be long-lasting and devastating.


POSTED September 21 2015 10:38 AM

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