To catch a pot smoker

39 Replies

Hi all,

Okay - here's the situation: shared entrance hallway between two units, and one of the occupants is using the hallway to smoke pot.  I know this because I have been in the hallway a few times in recent weeks and there is a very strong and fresh odor. Lease forbids this, naturally.

I am pretty sure I know which tenant, but I would like to try and get irrefutable evidence.  I sent a general letter to all residents and, not surprisingly, no change.  They have disabled the smoke detector in the hallway as well.

I know if I come in with an accusation, they will immediately blame it on the other unit.

Looking for suggestions...

@Wesley W.   If you this is common area then perhaps you can justify camera system to figure out and deter this behavior.  Taking down the smoke detectors is a big deal and should be dealt with in my opinion

Best of luck to you! 

Originally posted by @Jeff Willis :

Lease forbids what, smoking pot?  Marijuana has been decriminalized in NY. What are you trying to accomplish?

Regardless of that law it is indoors and I am assuming It says no smoking if any kind indoors.  My guess his he doesn’t want his property to smell like crap and give a pleasant experience for all his tenants.  

Install some cameras, send a notice to all saying tampering with smoke detectors isn’t allowed.  Catch the person and then boot them, my answer is if they break the simple rules than your place will be trashed when they move out and it’s easier to rip the bandaid off now before it gets to that. 

@Eric C.

If the lease forbids smoking in the apartment or the common area, that is a different story, but he explicitly said "and one of the occupants is using the hallway to smoke pot" and the title is "to catch a pot smoker," which implies it is the pot, not the smoking.

If this is a common area and the lease forbids smoking in a common area, then install a camera and terminate accordingly.

BTW I hate smoking of any kind and can't stand the smell.

Originally posted by @Eric C. :

Install some cameras, send a notice to all saying tampering with smoke detectors isn’t allowed.  Catch the person and then boot them, my answer is if they break the simple rules than your place will be trashed when they move out and it’s easier to rip the bandaid off now before it gets to that. 

 Installing a security camera is problematic as I do not have any wi-fi of my own in the building.  I thought of installing a hidden camera, but the area is pretty small and stark, so really not too many good places to disguise or hide it.

I have ordered a cage for a new detector, but if they are willing to disable a detector to break the rules, they probably wouldn't be thwarted much by a cage.  I could send letters about the damage to the detector, but without proof I don't think that would be accomplishing much.  I'm pretty sure whomever did it knew that was not acceptable behavior.  

I have moderately tight circumstantial evidence it is the daughter of one of the tenants - "back from college" since the summer - and her guests.

@Wesley W.

Camera sounds like your best option for knowing for sure.

If you were very confident in your assumption, which is just as costly if not more is to to not renew the tenant you suspect of the violation and find out if you are right. If you get them out of the hallway, by installing a camera they will just smoke in their unit, so I think this option might be the best. (Since they have already shown a willingness to disregard the rules)

@Todd Rasmussen   Sadly, NY just changed its laws so I will need to provide a 90-day notice of termination despite having a month-to-month lease in this case.  I'm just trying to decide if 3 months of retaliatory BS is worth it.  This was an inherited tenant that has been a moderate PITA since building acquisition.  The property is sufficiently stabilized now that I could cut her loose.  Minimally, I would wait until spring at any rate.

I’d do nothing . If the guy wants to smoke a joint after a day of work what’s the big deal . I mean geez if he’s paying rent and not a drug dealer is it really causing much damage

@Wesley W.

You don't need a real camera. Just a fake one with a battery powered light. You can get four for twenty bucks on Amazon. The minute they break one you stick up another one. Wi-fi, connections, wires...most people have no clue how these things actually work.

Couple of ideas: 
1. You can get a battery operated motion camera that saves to a card and you pull the card and watch the thing later. Cheap alternative to the full blown real time system. 

2. If you know who it is or think you do, sit down with them or first send them a lease violation notice letter and then talk to them. Tell them they need to smoke OUTSIDE the building or you will be taking action against them and if there's an eviction on their record it will hamper their ability to rent in the future. A warning essentially. 

You might be able to do this in a roundabout way: can you test the units to see if there is a marijuana smoker in there?  If so, and if there is only one unit testing positive, that is likely your common area smoking unit.

Check this out: https://www.amazon.com/THC-Surface-Residue-Detection-Test/dp/B00BPX4XW2

I've never used it and don't know anything about it.  There may be other products out there.  I just had an idea that might help you and did a quick search.

I recommend sending a Notice of Inspection to both tenants with the minimum legal notice given. Then go and "smell"/look at each unit.  Document the inspection with photos and I recommend using an Inspection Checklist as well. If the tenant is present, discuss the issue with he/she and let them know that any violation of the lease - including disabling a smoke detector or any other property will not be tolerated and will result in eviction. I would also advise that there will be ongoing, routine inspections of the common areas to ensure compliance.  

Showing up and doing inspections of their personal space pretty much reminds them that it's "your ball, your court." 

Pats on the back to you for knowing what's going on at your property.  

He thinks its more than likely a college aged girl that's home for the summer. If she's smoking in the hallway its more than likely because her parent/s don't allow her to smoke in the house. I wouldn't waste the money on inspections. Just go directly to the tenant and let them know cameras are being installed. If they are tampered with they can expect a lease termination.

Would it be possible to go right to the parents and just have a normal conversation with them about it?  Mention that other tenants have complained about the odor and just restate it is against what is spelled out in the lease.  Seems like a lot of trouble to install security cameras for this, especially since it sounds like it isn't a criminal offense.  Depending on the parents, they may be grateful you address it with them instead of trying to catch their daughter and follow through with any kind of repercussions.

Originally posted by @Wesley W. :

Hi all,

Okay - here's the situation: shared entrance hallway between two units, and one of the occupants is using the hallway to smoke pot.  I know this because I have been in the hallway a few times in recent weeks and there is a very strong and fresh odor. Lease forbids this, naturally.

I am pretty sure I know which tenant, but I would like to try and get irrefutable evidence.  I sent a general letter to all residents and, not surprisingly, no change.  They have disabled the smoke detector in the hallway as well.

I know if I come in with an accusation, they will immediately blame it on the other unit.

Looking for suggestions...

 lol, why are you so vested in catching the pot smoker? Myself I like catching rent checks.

Usually the building tenants handles it themselves. Someone who doesn't like the smell will go in the hallway and tell the smoker, loiterer, etc..to "take it outside" and they do. 

Originally posted by @Matthew Paul :

Leave a trailof  some potato chips , chetos , and other munchies . The pot smoker will follow the trail , use a net to catch them 

 I'm still laughing so hardddd from THIS 👆👆👆

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