My Downstairs Tenant Thinks my Upstairs Tenant is doing Drugs

11 Replies

This is my first post on BP! I'm a fairly new property owner and have found myself in an interesting position. My business partner and I have a total of 6 units and I received a call tonight from one of my tenants who lives in a duplex of ours. They claimed that the other tenant in our apartment may be doing drugs. They can smell "smoke" and have found some suspicious items in the yard all while there is a lot of traffic in and out of the apartment. Has anyone ran into a similar situation and if so, do you have any advice??

Report the issue to the local authorities and give lower unit's tenant as the source.

"Suspicious activity" is all you can say, note the date + time of your call for future reference; at least this sets the record that you care and made an effort.

I'm kind of suspicious about this because of my own experience as a renter.

Many years ago I lived in a cheap apartment in Milwaukee. The crazy b!tch below me constantly complained to the manager that I was having wild parties, making all kinds of noise, etc. in the middle of the night.

The funny thing about this is I went to work at 5 in the morning, so I was in bed by 9 or 10 o'clock at night. And she claimed I was having wild parties at 2 in the morning.

One night when I was sound asleep the phone rang, and it was the crazy b!tch from downstairs screaming "Would you be quiet up there."

So I would be very careful before I start calling the police. It's possible the complaining tenant is the one with the problem.

I wouldn't call the police at all. I agree with Fred Heller. It might just be a personal issue between the two also. Stay out of it.

But if you decide not to stay out of it then check it out for yourself rather than take one tenants word for it.

Even if the one tenant is selling drugs it won't do you any good if the cops come and tear the place up and then take them to jail so they can't pay the rent.

I totally agree with Fred and Damon. Stay out of it. It's not really your responsibility to contact the police. It's the person/tenant who is complaining to report it themselves.

Nick R. Your tenant smelled smoke and assumed the worst. I would be more concerned about the smoke, then anything else. If there isn't a smoker upstairs and something happens, then you could be sued based on previous warning by the tenant. I would use the tenants complaint of smoke, to check the other tenant out. It's a non confrontational approach and your tenants will know your on top of things. Win win!!

@Nick R. we live in a very litigious society, so you should proceed with caution.  You need to do something to prove to the complaining tenant that you are WILLING to take action, but at the same time not antagonize the upstairs tenant. 

I would suggest that you tell your complaining tenant that if the they feel that something is happening at the unit, that they need to contact the police directly.  Tell them that the police are best equipped to handle this type of situation and that once appropriate steps have taken place, you will then be able to discuss this matter directly with the upstairs tenant.  IF they actually contact the police, your tenant should be able to provide you with an incident report.  This document will then allow you to approach the upstairs tenant without seeming to take sides.

These actions will essentially keep you neutral in the situation.  Keep all of your documentation!

Good luck!


Sorry I haven't been able to respond lately. At this point I feel like staying out of it may be the best route. I am talking with the downstairs tenant about calling the police if she feels that it is necessary. 

Thanks again for all of the advice! It's nice to know I have an outlet for questions/issues like this. 


Yup, I also say that the tenant will need to call the police themselves. You are not the police. You can't really do much. Plus, depending on the tenant, this opens the door for them to call you with any little complaint and at all hours.

Ok I would definitely go check out "smoke" issue. While there talk to the upstairs tenant and find out how everything is going? Not in regards to issue with downstairs tenant just living conditions in general. If something happens and the tenant gets hurt you could be held liable. PS do you require your tenants to have renters insurance you may want to enforce that as another reason to "check" on things. Good Luck.