Move Out Inspection with Drug Dealer?

35 Replies

I have a tenant who is moving out after having been busted with a large amount of drugs (approx $10,000) in the unit. I had started eviction proceedings against him but it seems he has moved out in advance of that taking effect. The building superintendents say he had a moving truck over there and had booked the elevator.  He contacted me to say that the unit would be cleaned and ready for hand back of keys this afternoon.

The question is, would you do a move out inspection with a drug dealer? I have not had trouble with him or his relative, although his relative was convicted of possession of illegal firearms.  I see two advantages in doing a move out inspection together: he would conclusively be returning possession to me in handing back keys, and we would note any damages together with him signing off on that. I believe that there may be some damage although I am not sure to what extent. Also I would likely get a forwarding address since our move out form calls for that.

The downside of course is who knows what might happen. Relations were good but that is before I filed eviction papers. As an alternative I could just have him hand keys to the building superintendent and then do a move out inspection on my own. I could get a forwarding address by performing another credit check, which my lease authorises me to do for enforcement of any lease term. Being sure that he has handed back possession is important as there are rules here about that and I want to change locks once he is out. if there is not sufficient clarity that he has returned possession then changing locks could be a breach of landlord and tenant laws here.

I am not sure what to do. I think that things would probably be OK but this is a somewhat open question. He had nothing against me prior to filing for eviction. We have had reasonably civil emails over the past few days. What do BPers think of the relative merits of meeting him to do a move out inspection or doing things remotely and inspecting on my own? This is a time sensitive matter - he could be out today.

From what you have said, I would go and do the move out inspection.  But it might just be my perspective. The guy got caught with $10,000 worth of drugs (not a lot) and moved out before he was actually evicted. He has relation that has a weapons charge which doesn't say too much. Is he a gang banger or is he a felony who had a gun and got caught.

The only variable I see is, did you have to evict because he wouldn't agree to move on his own or did you just move to evict right away. I had a similar situation. I told the tenants that there was nothing I could do as the city has no tolerance and if I don't take action they could take the house eventually. They agreed to move within 10-14 days and got it done. 

I have always had good relations with the guy. I feel sorry for his circumstances, he has made some wrong choices and they are catching up with him. He has apparently moved before receiving any order from the Landlord Tenant Board (the court here) and so in that sense is going voluntarily. He did receive a lot of legal paper work that specified a move out date of a couple of days ago but this was not a formal order. A family member was convicted of weapons offences and it seems he likely had access to them as well. That is the thing that gives me pause. But he has sent some pretty polite emails and says he is cleaning the unit to move in condition as required by the lease. I see arguments both ways but must pick one course of action and go with it. Comments welcome.

Schedule a move-out inspection with the tenant and have a witness with you. Take photos of any damage/excessive mess. Be sure to lift up the top of the range and look in the oven too. Be sure to look behind everydoor. Be sure to check inside all cupboards and closets for items left behind. Ask him if he knows of any damages or any items needing repair and make a note of them.

Have him sign a form that verifies he returned possession to you on that date and returned the keys. Do not agree on the amount of damage or amount of security deposit to be returned at that moment. Just note the damages, missing items, and excess need for cleaning that can seen at that time. When you do the actual turnover, other items are likely to turn up and can be added as necessary. 

Mail your final report on return of deposit before the deadline established by the landlord-tenant laws for your jurisdiction. Verify his phone number and forwarding address. If it is a P.O. address, get a physical address also (in case you need to serve court papers in the near future or initiate collection action.) Call the utility companies while doing the move-out inspection to verify there are no outstanding amounts due that could become a lien on your property.

Marcia Maynard, Fischer Properties | Podcast Guest on Show #83

@Marcia Maynard thanks for your response, thorough as always. What is your take on the issue of personal safety? This to me is the deciding factor. I do thorough move out inspections and have a form used by my local landlord's association which I follow and which has sections for damages, noting condition, collection of keys and forwarding address. There is also a form from the Landlord and Tenant Board (the court) here that allows the tenant to give notice of termination of tenancy. I have typed one up giving today's date as the end of the tenancy such that he could sign it and that would be the end of things. The guns that he has had access to in the past are a cause for concern, but relations have in the past been good. Of course I was not evicting him then.

@James Wise   You are right. I think the chances of collecting are slim to none. That leaves receiving the keys and clearly ending the tenancy as the key (ahem) benefit from seeing him in person. Handing keys back to a landlord might be seen as more conclusive than handing them back to a third party such as a building superintendent. There are rules here about changing locks and I very much want to change locks as soon as he is out. But if it were held that he had not formally ended his tenancy that could create issues.

There is a form in use here that allows a tenant to give notice of the ending of a tenancy. I have one typed up and can fax it to the building's management. If they had him sign it when he hands back the keys I think that would end things for sure.

Originally posted by @Stephen E. :

@Marcia Maynard thanks for your response, thorough as always. What is your take on the issue of personal safety? This to me is the deciding factor. I do thorough move out inspections and have a form used by my local landlord's association which I follow and which has sections for damages, noting condition, collection of keys and forwarding address. There is also a form from the Landlord and Tenant Board (the court) here that allows the tenant to give notice of termination of tenancy. I have typed one up giving today's date as the end of the tenancy such that he could sign it and that would be the end of things. The guns that he has had access to in the past are a cause for concern, but relations have in the past been good. Of course I was not evicting him then.

Do the move-out inspection during the day time and don't do it alone. There is nothing you stated previously that would cause me alarm. Many people have access to firearms. He has never threatened you, he hasn't shown anger toward you, he doesn't have past convictions of a violent nature, he has been cooperative, you have had a good relationship during the tenancy. Why do you fear? Be polite and appropriate in your interactions. Don't take up too much of his time and be sure to say a kind word to him as you part.

Marcia Maynard, Fischer Properties | Podcast Guest on Show #83

@Marcia Maynard   I could do it with a Building Superintendent as a witness. Having guns has a different connotation here in Canada, and they were found with loaded handguns, a restricted weapon. But you are right, this may not be everything. You are also right in that he has never threatened me, he hasn't shown anger towards me, and we have had a good relationship during the tenancy. Things have always been civil.

He’s still just as human as you and I. You’ll be fine. 

You’ve probably dealt with larger drug dealers without knowing it. 

@Stephen E.  

Does Ontario have a standardised accommodation inspection report for move-in / move-out?   We have them down here: two copies are made at move-in (noting the condition of each space).  On move out, the exit condition for the same spaces is noted.  The report is signed by both the tenant and landlord at move-in and again at move-out.  Tenant retains a copy. I addition to the report, we take pictures at both move-in and move-out and provide the tenant with a DVD.

I would also suggest doing the move-out inspection, but, as Marcia stated, bring a witness with you ... if you are really concerned the fellow may be armed, you could hire an off-duty police officer (around here it costs about $30).   Even though you are unlikely to collect for damages (beyond whatever security deposit is held), I would still file with the LTB.

Medium greenapartmenthires 1024x1024Roy N., Louer Louer Ltd. | 1.506.471.4126

Originally posted by @Stephen E. :

@Marcia Maynard  I could do it with a Building Superintendent as a witness. Having guns has a different connotation here in Canada, and they were found with loaded handguns, a restricted weapon. But you are right, this may not be everything. You are also right in that he has never threatened me, he hasn't shown anger towards me, and we have had a good relationship during the tenancy. Things have always been civil.

Sounds like a good plan. You should be fine.

I much prefer the Canadian approach to guns than what we see here in the United States.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_politics_in_Canad...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_politics_in_the_U...

Marcia Maynard, Fischer Properties | Podcast Guest on Show #83

Originally posted by @Marcia Maynard :

Do the move-out inspection during the day time and don't do it alone. There is nothing you stated previously that would cause me alarm. Many people have access to firearms. He has never threatened you, he hasn't shown anger toward you, he doesn't have past convictions of a violent nature, he has been cooperative, you have had a good relationship during the tenancy. Why do you fear? Be polite and appropriate in your interactions. Don't take up too much of his time and be sure to say a kind word to him as you part.

 Marcia:

Access to firearms, particularly hand-guns which are restricted, is not as prevalent in Canada.   It is also illegal to carry.

Medium greenapartmenthires 1024x1024Roy N., Louer Louer Ltd. | 1.506.471.4126

@Garett H. May well be right, there may well have been other encounters with dealers over the years. Drugs seem to be everywhere. Over the time I have been a landlord I have come across drug issues twice now that I am aware of and I have come to realise I may have been naive about this stuff in the past. Once there was a dealer in a unit next door to mine, in a very nice little townhouse development chosen by professionals and little old ladies. That was a great surprise. Now I have a dealer in my own unit. He is a nice guy but has made some wrong choices and is likely headed to prison. A police officer I spoke with said he was looking at about a year inside. 

@Roy N.   I am aware that New Brunswick has a standard form for inspections. I had a look on their website and it is a good form. Ontario does not have one unfortunately, but there is a standard form provided by the local property management association (they do leases and other documents as well, and they tend to be of very high quality, developed by top landlord and tenant law lawyers). The move in / move out inspection form is one legal sized page and is not as thorough as I would like but it is the only one available and I believe the local Landlord Tenant Board adjudicators would be familiar with it. Having said that as noted above I think the chances of collecting in this instance are pretty slim.

@Marcia Maynard   I have to agree on the legal front, having lived north and south of the border. I feel safer here.

I spoke to the tenant and he was busy cleaning the unit, which is a positive sign. He had a few things remaining to move out and was civil on the phone. I arranged a move out inspection for this evening and am in the process of arranging to have a building superintendent present as a witness and ready to change the locks.

Well, we completed the move out inspection. I won't get into a full description of what happened, but while it was tense we filled out the inspection form. He handed the unit back to me and signed off on that so we won't need the Sheriff to come in and will avoid that expense at least. There is a lot of damage however.

There is a large number of cigarette burns in the carpet and there are many stains on the carpet throughout the unit. The bottom line is that all flooring in the living and dining areas, hallway and both bedrooms needs to be replaced. There are gouges in the walls in the living and dining area, and decorations have been stuck to the walls in one bedroom; when you try to pull them off chunks of paint come with them. There is some pretty obvious repainting in large patches on the wall on the master bedroom. Essentially the unit needs to be completely repainted.

Some tenancies come to a bad end and this is one of them. It is over now however and we can move on. One characteristic of the long term landlord is resilience. You have to be able to handle disappointment and carry on. This was an inherited tenant; I am going to be very wary of taking someone else's tenant on again. But he is gone and in five to six weeks we should have the unit redone and a new tenant in there. It is a nice building, located near a big institutional employer with lots of renters. I am optimistic.

@Stephen E.  

Drywall, paint and carpet are not that bad  ... annoying, but quick turnaround.  At least he didn't have a big dog - or three - that urinated all over the place.

Medium greenapartmenthires 1024x1024Roy N., Louer Louer Ltd. | 1.506.471.4126

Originally posted by @Stephen E. :

Some tenancies come to a bad end and this is one of them. It is over now however and we can move on. One characteristic of the long term landlord is resilience. You have to be able to handle disappointment and carry on. This was an inherited tenant; I am going to be very wary of taking someone else's tenant on again. But he is gone and in five to six weeks we should have the unit redone and a new tenant in there. It is a nice building, located near a big institutional employer with lots of renters. I am optimistic.

Well said! Wishing you all the best. Be sure to check for any cavities with hidden drugs or paraphernalia. Hire a crew and you may be able to complete the turnaround more quickly. Could have been worse. :-) Thanks for the update!

Marcia Maynard, Fischer Properties | Podcast Guest on Show #83

@Roy N. You are right, it could have been a lot worse. It is a disappointment but it is not a disaster. He did not kick holes in the walls, wilfully vandalise the place or worse. Unfortunately this particular unit is barely cash flow positive and the building it is in has not seen much appreciation in the last few years. So this unit is a loser. But every portfolio is going to end up with one, and it may turn around in a few years. The place is near one of the biggest hospitals in the area and there are a lot of young and mobile professionals who want to rent there. The place has a great view and a good location. It has a lot going for it and time heals all wounds. 

@Marcia Maynard   I will be on the look out for this. Thanks for the advice and encouragement. I am hoping to have this turned around with all the work done and a new tenant in place for March 1 or thereabouts. That would be the earliest and assuming quick progress on the work such that the unit can be shown. It looks very sorry at present and I can't let prospective renters in there, they would be put off completely. But it will look better than it did originally when we are through. I have been meaning to try the Allure flooring that everyone on BP seem so keen on, so I will put that in. I put carpet in the last refurbishment we did but looking at the state of the carpet in this unit is enough to put you off carpet for life. We paint with Behr Gobi Desert, it will lighten things up and be nice and neutral, ready to go with any furniture. The kitchen and bathroom are basically in good shape and the appliances are all OK. And I have now removed a drug dealer from my tenant roster. The day is a net plus, all things considered.

Informative thread.  It's always good to see before, during and after on BP.

A couple of takeaways:

In property management, inherited tenants are the source of well over 90% of the grief for managers.  I've never thought of this (or done it myself), but when purchasing a rental property, buyers should do more due diligence on the existing tenant applications and screening.  Is this legal viz privacy laws?

@Stephen E.  You mentioned that the walk-through was tense.  Do you attribute this to the condition of the place or the tenant's situation?  Walk-throughs of trashed units are never sunshine and roses.

Glad it worked out.

@William Hochstedler   the tension was more because he brought two friends, unannounced and not introduced, plus he was dressed in all out drug dealer fashion as if uncloaking from the appearance he had presented to me previously. And of course there was substantial damage. The place needs completely painting and the two main areas of cigarette burns in the carpet in the living room are very large. There are cigarette burns in the master bedroom as well. It looks worse in daylight I am afraid.

On the plus side the locks were changed today and we went shopping for flooring and got some numbers for painters. I need to get some more keys cut (a perennial for landlords seems to be getting keys cut at the locksmiths). Then I can hand the painter a set and they can come and go as needed to get the job done. I am hoping to have painters in there by the end of the week. Just have to keep moving forward and getting a new tenant in there. Going after the former tenant in small claims court might have some benefit but then there is the question of whether you could ever collect. My guy is going to jail and likely sooner rather than later. In that sense he has more problems than I do, although his are of his own making and mine are of his making also.

@William Hochstedler  Time is money. I have meetings with several painters on site tomorrow. One of them has done work for me before and he can start the job this weekend. Get that done and it's on to flooring. We will get quotes going on that soon. The place will be better than before. Paint is the most cost effective upgrade and flooring is important too. I have a line on a place that does commercial grade vinyl plank flooring, and I know an installer who has done good work for us before. My goal is to get the place rent ready for March 1. It likely won't be leased by then and I don't think there is any point showing it to prospects before the work is done. But I would like to have someone in there for April 1 for sure. This will be a real upgrade overall: new paint, new floor, new tenant. 

Originally posted by @James Wise :

Income from selling drugs is not taxable income.

Is it worth all the effort to try and collect from him? Does he also have a regular job or is this his only source of income?

 This is completely unrelated and has no bearing on the top but...Income from selling drugs is taxable income.

IRS Pub 17 - Chapter 12 Other Income

Right between a blurb about how you have to claim gains but can't claim losses on hobbies, and how Indian Fishing rights are handled...lies this gem.

"Illegal activities. 

Income from illegal activities, such as money from dealing illegal drugs, must be included in your income on Form 1040, line 21, or on Schedule C or Schedule C-EZ (Form 1040) if from your self-employment activity"

Chapter 12 Other Income

Originally posted by @Adam Hershman :
Originally posted by @James Wise:

Income from selling drugs is not taxable income.

Is it worth all the effort to try and collect from him? Does he also have a regular job or is this his only source of income?

 This is completely unrelated and has no bearing on the top but...Income from selling drugs is taxable income.

IRS Pub 17 - Chapter 12 Other Income

Right between a blurb about how you have to claim gains but can't claim losses on hobbies, and how Indian Fishing rights are handled...lies this gem.

"Illegal activities. 

Income from illegal activities, such as money from dealing illegal drugs, must be included in your income on Form 1040, line 21, or on Schedule C or Schedule C-EZ (Form 1040) if from your self-employment activity"

Chapter 12 Other Income

That is funny. Gotta love the government.   : )

Medium holton wise property group logo jpegJames Wise, The Holton Wise Property Group | [email protected] | 216‑661‑6633 | http://www.HoltonWisePropertyGroup.com | OH Agent # 2015001161 | Podcast Guest on Show #127