Marijuana growing in my rental

Landlord Forums & Rental Property Questions 58 Replies

Hello. I rent a house with a separate garage to a single mom and her 12 year old son. She pays on time, has been in for a few months.

I recently had a contractor rake up all the leaves and do a nice spruce up of the property. Today I went to have a look, then noticed she put a new lock on the garage door. She has the windows all covered but I peaked through on one side and see clearly a single marijuana plant with a proper grow light and a fan. I have been in this garage about 8 weeks ago and it was cluttered with a ton of her junk. I don't think she has room to turn this into a mega grow operation. Power bills do not indicate heavy electric either.

I decided to enter the house to inspect for plants in the house. She was not home, I went in anyway. She keeps the house orderly and clean. Her son's bedroom looks like a typical 12 year old. There is nothing inside the home that concerns me.

I am not sure what to do. I have a concern that the wiring in the garage can not support even a fan and grow light 24/7, it is a fire hazard. Aside from that, I need access to the garage in case of emergency so I need a key to the door. And there is the problem of it being illegal.

I am inclined to serve notice that she has broken the lease and to move out, but then we have lawyer fees. And she pays well and keeps the house clean.

Another part of me wants to have a face-to-face personal conversation and tell her that she can keep one plant there as long as she removes it while I have an electrician wire the new outlet that I had already planned for that garage (there is a "home run" on its own circuit going to the garage but it's not yet hooked up as an outlet).

Tell me what you would do please. Thanks!

Sounds like you have a problem.

I would be very careful with allowing that and her knowing that you know. If there is a problem with the law and she turns around and says "but the landlord says it was okay" could be bigger problems for you.

Better legal fees for eviction than criminal defense.

You are not in any trouble just because you own the home. The exception would be, once you have "knowledge" of the activity, it can be argued that you are in actual possession........even though there is a lease.

Allowing her to retain possession with your knowledge (that is accomodating her with extra electrical capacity) to run grow lights is probably worse.

You dont have to evict her, but you if she wants to stay, you will have to let her know the dope has to go. You own the property and you can't be a party to her criminal activity.

I agree with Mike on his point. Accomodating her use by providing better wiring is implicit agreement and cooperation.

Second, would you approve if she put a new lock on the house? If no, then you need to disapprove of her installing a lock on the garage for the same reasons.

All are correct, not to mention in some states they can actually seize the home for drug distribution.

I would ask the tenant to move out ASAP and be very relieved once she's moved out. A tenant who pays rent on time is not worth the criminal defense, like Steve pointed out above.

Honestly, I am surprised that you are even considering letting her grow this in your house. It would be one thing if you had no idea about it, but now knowing the situation, it makes you part of it. Get rid of the problem ASAP, IMO.

Sharad M., Max Properties, LLC | [email protected] | 773‑977‑9115 | http://www.MaxPropertiesLLC.com

I would just make it about the lock. Don't let her know you know about the plant. Tell her you noticed the lock was changed and that she needs to put the original one back on.

Originally posted by Max I:

Honestly, I am surprised that you are even considering letting her grow this in your house. It would be one thing if you had no idea about it, but now knowing the situation, it makes you part of it. Get rid of the problem ASAP, IMO.

I guess people's attitudes are changing about pot. But it's one thing to have a tenant who smokes it discreetly and another to have someone growing or selling it.

Originally posted by goodvalley:
And there is the problem of it being illegal.

Two things: #1: Is it illegal? Washington State is a medical marijuana state. Does she have her medical card? If so, then there is nothing illegal about it.

But on the subject of illegality, you entered the property with no notice, without an emergency being present? Without her being present? I'm willing to bet that is a clear violation of Landlord-Tenant law in Washington State.

There is something illegal about it because Federal laws trump state laws and the Feds don't recognize medical marijuana laws.

DEA states it's a Schedule I substance with no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.
The DEA doesn't want a casual user they only want the
growers and trafficker of larger quantities of pot. They currently tolerate the states medical marijuana laws but at any time can arrest and prosecute for breaking them. Not to mention does anyone know the forfeiture laws regarding allowing something like this?

On a lighter note in Amsterdam they tolerate the natural growing of up to 5 marijuana plants as long as it's for personal consumption.

Why do you want to keep someone in your house who is not only violating your lease, but also locking you out of the garage and committing a felony on top of it?

So I guess accepting the rent payments in pot is out of the question? :mrgreen:

I recommend immediately notifying the police. Tell them you are a landlord, and you noticed what appears to be a marijuana plant being grown in your garage. Now that you know about it, you have liability. You don't want to be arrested here for something your tenant is doing.

It's only legal if you don't inhale!:)

Dont call the cops on the poor lady just trying to pay her rent and feed her kids. Buy her a curtain and an outlet and raise the rent and get CASH

goodvalley,
How do you know it is a "proper grow light"? LOL, I would have a talk about the lock on the garage, let her know it is unacceptable. I'd probably be so pissed she added a lock to the garage that I would've called the cops and let them handle it. Anyway, bring up the lock and the problem may take care of itself. Let us know what you do, I would be interested in hearing the outcome!

Originally posted by Jeff B.:
There is something illegal about it because Federal laws trump state laws and the Feds don't recognize medical marijuana laws.

DEA states it's a Schedule I substance with no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.
The DEA doesn't want a casual user they only want the
growers and trafficker of larger quantities of pot. They currently tolerate the states medical marijuana laws but at any time can arrest and prosecute for breaking them. Not to mention does anyone know the forfeiture laws regarding allowing something like this?

The Obama Admin has formally stated that they have ended raids on medical marijuana distributors. At least in CA, this is a non-issue:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/19/us/19holder.html

I suggest you check local laws regarding growing and, if it IS legal to grow a certain number of plants for personal use, have that conversation with the tenant. If she is following local laws and has all the proper documentation, CAN you evict her?

I would consult an attorney...your renter may now have an ownership interest as a "Joint Tenant"

Maybe she was growing something else for her son, RIGHT!!!, RIGHT!! Maybe you did not see it clearly like you thought. Dont kill your rental income. Besides, Marijuana is not really a drug, it would be differnet if she had a meth lab.

Medium buymemphisnow stacksCurt Davis, Buy Memphis Now | [email protected] | 605‑310‑7929 | http://www.BuyMemphisNow.com | TN Agent # 00321765

they may also be "Tenants in common".
Just by peaking in the window he could tell what kind of plant it was and also know it was a proper grow light.

We might also look at the age of the responders. Us old fuddy duddy type might give one answer and the younger generation might give another type anbswer

Originally posted by arbitrage6:
All are correct, not to mention in some states they can actually seize the home for drug distribution.

This is true. I have had this threatened on me when a police raided a property. To me they where good tenants and always paid but I had to evict them.

I don't think he needs to worry about loosing the house in a drug seizure over a single plant. It could even be legal, but if not, this isn't a case where the DEA is going to raid the place.

Per your own words, you have a tenant who is clean and pays her bills on time. All of that could change if you threaten eviction. At this point why risk the legal costs, possible loss in rent, and risk damage to the property over something that you could very likely solve with a simple conversation?

I would have a sit down with her. As mentioned, perhaps she has a medical card to grow the plant. Perhaps not, but by having an informal talk with her you ought to be able to resolve the issue in a civil manner. I wouldn't even mention eviction since that could put her on the defensive.

As some have mentioned, approach this from the point that the wiring is an issue and that you need access to the garage. IF that doesn't work, then you can take it to the next level.

I can't believe you entered the house without notice. If I were your tenant And found out. I would be pissed and do everything I could to get get you in trouble for trampling on my privacy.

You need to learn how to be a good landlord. You give us all a bad name.
UNBELIEVABLE

Medium square logo final flatMark Updegraff, Updegraff Development LLC | [email protected] | (585) 314‑9790 | http://www.RochesterInvestment.com | NY Agent # 10491205428

Originally posted by Mitch Kronowit:
So I guess accepting the rent payments in pot is out of the question? :mrgreen:

lol

You have shot yourself in the foot so far. I wouldn't look to make an issue as you entered without notice, and I am sure a state would have sympathy toward a tenant in that matter if she pursued it.

I would inform her you will be performing a safety inspection at a given time period and then walk through and see what is going on. It probably won't be there and following that you could perform repairs if you like.

You will need to have some sort of knowledge of the problem to pursue legal action other than " I just went in her apartment for no reason when she wasn't home without
informing her."

Perhaps send a letter to all your tenats reminding them of lease violations sort of like an informational and not accusatory letter. We send stuff like this to tenants all the time, just a monthly newsletter. Perhaps include a section on drugs and how they affect a lease.

You then aren't accusing her of anything, haven't singled her out, and hopefully she will read between the lines and understand that you "know" what's going on.