Tenant was Assaulted Outside of House

11 Replies

I was hoping y'all could provide some guidance.

My tenant has gotten into some run-ins with the neighbor over the past couple of years. He states that the neighbor is a drug dealer and will often pick fights with him for no reason. My tenant will call me every time something happens. I will let him know that there is nothing I can do and he needs to contact the police department (which he now does whenever a confrontation happens). Approximately a year ago i did install security lights on the house. However because of potential liability issues, I try to stay out of the situation as much as possible. I have also advised him to get renters insurance each time this comes up and have a condition in my lease advising my tenant to get a policy. 

My tenant recently had another confrontation with the neighbor. What would you recommend for course of action? My tenant is on a month to month lease and I have let him know if he feels unsafe he is free to move. I want to make sure I limit my liability if anything ever arose out of one of these confrontations. 

Thank you all for your time. It is greatly appreciated!

Tell your tenant to call the cops and stay out of it.

Does he ever bring up moving? Seems like he should want to given his account of the events.

Has the neighbor ever destructed the outside or inside of the property? If he has I would then start to be concerned.

Michael Noto, Real Estate Agent in CT (#RES.0799665)
860-384-7570

I think you were wise to tell him he's free to go if he feels the need. If he chooses not to then you can't be blamed for keeping him in a dangerous situation.

I would also call the neighborhood police precinct yourself and talk to them about the situation, if you haven't already. They may be looking for an excuse to keep a closer eye on the dodgy neighbor... who knows. And if they hear from you as well as your tenant, the cops might begin to see it as more of a neighborhood safety issue and less of a "two guys who don't get along" issue. They might be able to at least drive by a bit more often and sometimes that's all it takes to make the neighbor chill down or, best case scenario, move on.

So now that we all know you have a rental property next door to a dangerous drug dealer, how are you mitigating liability by offering your current tenant a way out? I mean, you do intend on renting to someone else if they move out right? Unless you openly advertise/disclose this to your new tenants, has your situation really changed by simply substituting a new potential victim?

@Chris Simmons   all that we really know is that "My tenant has gotten into some run-ins with the neighbor over the past couple of years. He states that the neighbor is a drug dealer and will often pick fights with him for no reason."

The tenant may be absolutely correct, and the neighbor may be a drugged up maniac who will fight anything that moves. But on the other hand I've known a few people in my time who find that people often "pick fights with them for no reason".  I've known other people who go to all kinds of "dangerous" places and have never had anyone pick a fight with them. It's possible that there is just some antagonism going on that wouldn't be occurring if there were a different tenant. 

You're absolutely right that this could potentially be a bad situation for Account Closed  going forward, but I think it would be jumping the gun to automatically assume that 1) the guy is definitely a dealer and 2) that the aggression would be occurring no matter who lived there.

Getting the cops more involved may flush out the truth about the dealing- and also might solve the problem right there... when he goes off to jail!

Managing liability is a legal matter and the law rarely makes room for the truth.  The relevant matter is the fact that there is a dated message posted in the name of someone from a city that I personally love and miss visiting, that  can easily be referenced by plaintiffs attorney should there ever be an issue in the future.   Do we know that the neighbor is a bad, drug dealing bully?  No.  Do we know that the landlord has publicly declared being advised of this by his tenant?  YES.   Yes it is a complicated matter and  who knows if there could ever be liability assessed to the landlord.  I just know that an attorney will try and likely use the potential defendants post against him.  My only point is that the real solution in mitigating liability is working to resolve the issue, not simply replacing tenants and hoping for a better neighborly relationship.   

I had tenants who kept calling me about the next door neighbor.  Their calling the police didn't help.  My calling the police didn't help.  I let them out of their lease, but the situation was not resolved until I tracked down the out-of-state owner of the property (actual property manager would not do anything), and let him know I was having huge problems with his tenants, numerous police reports filed, that his property manager was doing nothing, and something needed to be done or I'd hold him liable.   It took several months after I found him, he said he knew nothing about it before my letter, and they had completely trashed his place before he got them out.  

Can you suggest he file a restraining order if things are currently so bad? Sounds like he feels threatened by neighbor, but not sure what he expects you to do about it. 1.) You can't remove the neighbor 2.) You can't tell the police anything that he can't tell himself 3.) He has a month-to-month, so it's not like an agreement with you is keeping him there.

Not really sure why he keeps running to you if he won't just move out. Sounds like it might be best tell him you don't want to renew, as this seems like a lose-lose situation. Hope he's not expecting a rent decrease due to his troubles. Otherwise -- seems weird he expects you to do anything.

@Jean Bolger  @Kris Taylor @Chris Simmons  @Jean Bolger  @Lynn M.  @Michael Noto thank you all for the help and input. 

Jean you are absolutely correct, so far all the information I have received about the neighbor is through my tenant. I called my neighborhood precinct today to get some more information to see what is on record of transpiring and am awaiting a call back. 

To respond to Chris and shed some more light on my reasoning for posting, my forum post was an effort to reach out to the BP community for any input/advice on the ramifications and concerns of my tenant being assaulted outside of the unit. I of course have concerns for my tenants safety and well being and do not want to put anybody else in a similar situation. My tenant has yet to express any intention of moving. I guess a better way to put my question would have been what are my responsibilities as a landlord when I am dealing with the aforementioned situation. I greatly appreciate the words of caution and will keep them in mind in all future postings. 

@Account Closed

Just shooting from the hip. If the tenant is in a month to month lease, and has expressed no interest to move than obviously he is not concerned for his safety! If he is not worried than honestly I would not worry about it!

It could be that the neighbor is not really dealing drugs and that it is not as bad as the tenant portrays. He may not have another avenue to vent.  have a tenant who contacts us with this type of drama all the time but never moves. Peaceful enjoyment and getting along with neighbors is a two way street. We like to be more proactive,  doing drive by and working with the police, but agree it isn't really a landlord issue. You may want to connect with Al Williamson in Sacramento,  he has experience chasing drug dealers out of his investment neighborhood.

I'll chime in only to echo a few things said earlier.

1 - Contacting the neighboring landlord is always a good approach. The more landlord to landlord, biz owner to biz owner communication there is - the better.

2 - Do something to find out the truth about the drug dealing. What kind of traffic is going in and out of the house next door?

3 - You may be doing all you need to from a legal sense, but you are likely not doing anything to make the neighborhood better. And therefore quite possibly missing a great opportunity to increase your own equity.

Wealth is created by finding solutions to problems...

I'll get off my soapbox now. Best to you.

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