Tenants complaining about smell of marijuana

40 Replies

Hi BP,

I have a house in College Park, MD. It has a separate upstairs and downstairs unit. The tenants downstairs have complained of marijuana smell from upstairs several times already. At this point, the upstairs tenants are denying it (all kinds of excuses). 

I've tried several times getting them together and talking about it. Although the tenants are very nice about it, the downstairs tenants keep smelling it. 

I'm not sure what else I can do at this point. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks, Yi

1., Do a surprise  legal check on the unit ,if there is drug paraphernalia take pictures and  issue a lease violation. 

2. Charles Stubblefiled said  ,have the unit below call for police. 

3. This can lead to other issues inside the unit why sacrifice a good tenant for a bad one.  Trust me you do not want to take a soft stand on this Take action enforce the lease . 

Talking it out is for loud walking , loud music or nuisance type complaints . If this is illegal and you have notice of the problem  you must document it and act . Good luck!

What is the best way to perform a legal check? Don't we have to give the tenant 24 hours if we want to check out the house?

Also, the tenant doesn't want to call the police in hear of retaliation. The downstairs tenants are moving out. After they do, can I just call the police to do random checks on the upstairs unit?

I'm trying to evict them.

Originally posted by @Sheila Greene :

1., Do a surprise  legal check on the unit ,if there is drug paraphernalia take pictures and  issue a lease violation. 

2. Charles Stubblefiled said  ,have the unit below call for police. 

3. This can lead to other issues inside the unit why sacrifice a good tenant for a bad one.  Trust me you do not want to take a soft stand on this Take action enforce the lease . 

Talking it out is for loud walking , loud music or nuisance type complaints . If this is illegal and you have notice of the problem  you must document it and act . Good luck!

 

I had this issue in a triplex . I found it easier to find hippy tenants to replace the complainers . You see if all the tenants smoked dope then no one complains  . I know that sounds simplistic but it works well . 

Do you have central heat & air? you could get a charcoal HVAC filter for the whiners and weatherstrip the doors of the stoners unit.  Personally, I'd rather smell weed than fried fish but honestly part of living in a multi-family shared space is shared smells.

@Yi Zhao , does your lease prohibit smoking?  If so, issue a written warning calling their attention to the violation of the lease terms and let them know if it continues, they will be asked to leave.

The tenants in questions and the tenants downstairs have discussed this for 2 month regarding smoking weed (which is illegal) and excessive noises. After two months of them continuing to do these things, the downstairs tenants gave up and moved out. At this point, I would like to remove them. 

I would like to know what are the legal steps I need to take. They refuse to admit they are doing these things and I persume I'll need evidence? 

Originally posted by @Roy N. :

@Yi Zhao, does your lease prohibit smoking?  If so, issue a written warning calling their attention to the violation of the lease terms and let them know if it continues, they will be asked to leave.

 

@Yi Zhao

Get to know the landlord tenancy law in your jurisdiction.   A copy of Residential Tenancies Act for Maryland can be viewed here.   Additional information here.

Follow the steps for remediation of such situations - section 8-402 in the Maryland statutes 

I agree with @Dennis M, would say most if not all of my tenants smoke weed, and its illegal here. You have to pick your battles. I feel as long as there not doing hard drugs in my units I'm not to worried. @Yi Zhao

Send the weed smokers a Notice To Quit for Reasons Other Than Non-Payment of Rent. It basically notifies them that they have violated a lease covenant and they need to stop or risk eviction.  If you have a no smoking covenant, that's the one to cite. Smoking is not a legal right of tenants. It's not covered under Fair Housing - smokers are not a protected class. Even those using for medical reasons do not have the legal right to smoke in a non-smoking environment.  

If you don't have a non-smoking clause, you may want to cite one pertaining to bothering/disturbing neighbors. If it's not legal in your state, then the illegal activity is the reason - and it's one that the neighbors should call the police about directly themselves.

Figure out where you stand from a lease perspective and enforce your lease.  

Originally posted by @Bryan Richardson :

I agree with @Dennis M, would say most if not all of my tenants smoke weed, and its illegal here. You have to pick your battles. I feel as long as there not doing hard drugs in my units I'm not to worried. @Yi Zhao

One of the nice things about being a landlord is you get to decided - within the bounds of the law - what you are willing to accept in your buildings.   Marijuana is legal here in Canada, but that is a separate matter from smoking in the property.  All of our properties are non-smoking irrespective of what is being smoked. Our lease is very clear that a first violation results in a fine and a subsequent violation will result in being served notice to vacate.

 

Originally posted by @Bryan Richardson :

I agree with @Dennis M, would say most if not all of my tenants smoke weed, and its illegal here. You have to pick your battles. I feel as long as there not doing hard drugs in my units I'm not to worried. @Yi Zhao

I am not sure you saw everything he posted. He said the downstairs tenants complained of weed smell and noise multiple times, then finally just gave notice to move out. By ignoring problems, you end up driving away good tenants who care. Then you are left with tenants who don't respect you or the law.

How would you even know if your tenants were doing harder harder drugs? Most people don't know what meth or heroin smells like. Cocaine, pills, shooting up will all have no smell. 

For me this is a matter of respect. If I call a tenant and tell them to stop smoking weed in my property, I expect them to stop. I don't care if they smoke weed, but I do care if they lie to me and drive good tenants away.

@Yi Zhao

I had a similar issue with some previous tenants of mine, fortunately I was living in the other unit at the time, so the issue didn’t cost me a good tenant.

Unfortunately it seems that it’s a bit late to be acting, but I think it would be best to get rid of a tenant that smokes in your unit even after losing a tenant.

The best way to get rid of them would have been to send them a formal notice for each time the other tenants complained citing in the notice which part of the lease they were violating. I’m not familiar with your state laws, but I don’t think you really need evidence. If you do, you can use the other tenants complaints as your evidence. After the first notice, the second or third one should have been a lease termination giving them a number of days to move out.

That’s how I did it, but it’s very dependent on your local laws.

In my case the tenants were violating two clauses of the lease. One being the smoking and the other was someone living there that wasn’t on the lease. They were inherited tenants. I gave them the notices and termination and they left.

@Joe Splitrock

Honestly, I dont get In the middle of my tenants fights. I usually ask the tenant in the wrong to stop, and I tell the other tenants to call the cops if it keeps happening. Its always worked for me in the past, and this works with smoke, loud music etc.

Plus, do you really know who is telling the truth?

Your right you cant smell some harder drugs. You can usually tell when a person applys for your home tho(usually).

You enforce your lease.... if they are smoking and you have a non-smoking clause, they are in violation.... they stop or you evict. That's it..... that's the extent of your involvement.

If what they are doing is illegal....smoking weed..... noise violations etc, then have them call the police and stay out of it until there is a formal legal documentation of the violations.

DON NOT be the mediator between tenants. You tell both parties to play nice and inform them of what you can legally enforce and then stay out of it

Keep in mind, marijuana is decriminalized in MD. Calling the police wont do anything. All a smart tenant is going to do is not answer the door and no judge in america is gonna issue a warrant for marijuana odor. If you have a No Drugs clause in your lease then you have the right to evict. If not, your gonna have to just wait out the lease.

@Yi Zhao

I would’ve knocked on the door and given them a vaporizer for their ganja so at least they can make the smoke odorless lol and after they praise what a wonderful landlord you are (with red eyes) tell them they can either Vape their weed in their apt. with that or walk outside if they need to smoke “flower” but they can’t do what they are currently doing. If they cooperate even a month without a complaint, send them a quick thank you card and gift card telling them you appreciate them working with you!

Police reports for that in MD will help build a case of complaints from the one tenant but I don’t know how far that would go in court only because the person could have a legal license to smoke it in their residence. The grounds that may help is if you can argue that it is negatively affecting the health of your other residents and making for an unsafe living environment (especially if any children or infants are around).

I think it’s always best to find a creative middle ground and if they don’t play than lawyer up and then get aggressive quick.

Best of luck!