Screening for booze abuse?

55 Replies

Ask them to breathe into a breathalyzer when you do the showings . 

What kind of question is this ? Look Alcohol is legal in every state that I’m aware of . You can’t evict someone because they have a beer after work lol plus You can’t really screen behaviors or reactions. If a person is hopelessly addicted to alcohol  it will likely show up in other areas like frequent job loss or moving around also a poor credit score all things that can indicate irresponsibility . It may do you good to understand the fair housing laws better 

I'm assuming that this alcoholism started after you rented to them. Usually, the pre-rental medical screening tests that you put your prospective tenants through would have caught this and any other undesirable diseases they might have. 

I install Interlock devices on all the locks on my units. That way if the tenant comes home drunk the device won't let them in until they sober up. It's trickier if they drink in the unit. Those people I suspect of drinking in the unit I do the surprise landlord unit check and require them to pee in a cup for testing. 

Well he almost burned my apartment down and killed himself. Thankfully the tenant across hall heard his smoke alarms called fire dept.  It was chemical smoke from plastic so the o2 was at 11% he was unconscious.

Emts said He was drunk and left stove on than fell asleep and was nearly dead from fumes. Emts barely got him awake.

btw he just turned 21.

Only been tenant 30 days in my 10 unit. 

Past all his screenings and  has 670 credit score. So again how do i screen for booze addicts. 

@Jeremy A. Alcoholism is classified as a disease and if you were to use that as the basis for an eviction or even tried to screen for it, chances are that the Maine Human Rights Commission would take a pretty dim view of that.  Here's the source material for that:


So the short answer is that you cannot screen for alcohol use (perfectly legal) or abuse (protected class).  Just be sure your smoke detectors and property insurance are up to snuff.

Originally posted by @Jeremy A. :

You couldn't possibly screen him for alcoholism. He's barely old enough to drink so I doubt he had a record. He was probably a young kid that went overboard like 98% of us do at that age and had an unfortunate accident. It's not like he was a 40-year-old man with five DUIs, public intoxication records, fired from his last four employers for being drunk at work, divorced three times, smelling like a brewery at 9AM, etc.

You had an unfortunate situation. It's not a pattern that needs to be screened for. Not every 21-year-old that drinks too much with his buddies is going to burn down your building.


@Jeremy A. Just because you had a bad experience related to alcohol doesn't mean it is now the most common reason for trouble. You likely will not have that situation happen again. But you *will* likely have some sort of challenge with tenants again. There is no way to just magically screen out all possible problems. You will face problems.

Also, the situation you described doesn't mean he was an alcoholic. It sounds like he is just young and stupid and drank way too much. Countless people get too drunk sometimes but it doesn't mean they're an alcoholic. Sometimes, getting too drunk causes damage or even death. That's a sad fact of life. Again, it doesn't mean they were an addict. Likely just made a poor decision.

And as it's been said, you can't really screen for alcoholism to rent a place. You are asking for legal trouble. 

Move past the situation you had because right now, it's just holding you back from making money.

Good luck with the ADA crowd on that.  Perhaps this even broke some other clause in your lease to evict on? Does your lease require he carry renters liability insurance? It will now...

That's a good reason to require renters insurance. 

BTW, since it's a multi-fam, you might consider Bluetooth smokes and co detectors--one goes off, they ALL sound.  That could save a life and/or a building.  You might also consider central station monitoring company.

Dude, one incident does not mean you can now start doing crazy screenings. If he violated the lease, evict him. 

Originally posted by @Greg M. :

 Those people I suspect of drinking in the unit I do the surprise landlord unit check and require them to pee in a cup for testing. 

This is way too intrusive. Just robo-call them late at night and ask them to count backwards by sevens. 


Originally posted by @Dennis M. :

 If a person is hopelessly addicted to alcohol  it will likely show up in other areas like frequent job loss or moving around also a poor credit score all things that can indicate irresponsibility . 

This. If a tenant drinks heavily but is very functional, not much you can or should do. 

Also, good smoke alarms, CO alarms, gas leak alarms, possibly as part of a system with a very loud siren. And insurance. 


@Jeremy A. Choose your words wisely on a forum like this. Alcoholism is a disability therefore alcoholics are a protected class. You can not evict him based on his disability. It sounds like you did a poor job of vetting this tenant. That being said, check your lease to see if he broke the contract by said fire, smoking etc. If he has not broken the lease, have a heart to heart with him about your safety concerns. Let him know in very certain direct terms that he is on a short leash and you will evict if he violates said lease. Best of luck.

I am in recovery from alcoholism, that being said you could always do a more thorough background screening on your tenants to check to see if He/She has ever been Evicted because of things of this nature or just in general, look at to see if he has a clean record! Also have a list available when you rent to people asking questions like Do you plan on having parties, as I do not allow those on my property. This will eliminate 70% of the drug/drinking crowd. But you can not ask at all the question of Do you Drink? I would check with your attorney, hopefully, you have one to help you out in these rare instances. Also, the last thing is, I have all of my tenants pay their own insurance on their unit and ask to see that and have a copy for their file.   Good Luck!!

I don't think this necesarily means he did a poor job of screening the tenant. The tenant had a good credit score and passed the background screening. Someone can have a great history, but one day make a terrible decision that goes against their past behavior. That is just part of the risk of rentals...random human behavior.

And I'm not sure that asking applicants if they plan to have parties would eliminate "70% of the drinking crowd" like suggested. This tenant was all alone it sounds like. And I'm guessing most people would just tell you what you want to hear: "No, I don't throw parties" and then throw a party. This happens with pets a lot too. You don't allow pets? Cool, they'll sneak in a cat or dog anyway. People are going to do what they're going to do.

@Dennis M.

I agree and I'm on the breaking point.. I can't take anymore of these stupid a** postings...makes me want to drink even more... Every morning I get on my phone and I look on bigger pockets to see if there's a glimmer of hope that there might be a posting that I can even relate to and it's been a steady decline over the past 2 years to the point to where nothing even makes sense on this

@Jeremy A. There are risks associated with investing and unfortunately this is one that you can't do anything about. You can do all of the legal screening of tenants you want, truth is you won't know what they are about until you deal with them day in, day out. That goes for people with 500 or 700 credit. 

@Dennis M.

How can I screen for alcoholism?

What markets in the US have the best cashflow?

My property manager is under performing and not meeting my expectations

What would you do with a million dollars?

What would you do with 2 million dollars?

My tenants are smoking weed what do I do??

The contractor that I hired off of craigslist with no references took my money now what should I do??

Just millennial turds that shouldn't even be investing...

I agree with @Nicole A. here. Also, if you have an interest in doing good for others, this is the perfect time to speak into this young guys life. He may have heard a lot from parents or teachers about the dangers of alcohol abuse, but one more person confirming this may be what he needs. He probably thinks he is indestructible and that bad things only happen to other people. A stiff warning from you- personally- could be what he needs to straighten up.

Be caring, but firm. If he respects you, your words could make a big difference.

@Mark Fries

as stupid as these kinds of posts are, so are the egotistical ones about making more in a month from rentals than people do in a year from their jobs, and how anyone can easily find millions of dollars for huge multi unit deals

@Matt M.

Agreed...tired of those posts also...just wanna be rich people taking advantage of other people...

" Meet me at Wicked Brew tonight at 8:00pm to share some buckwheat & seaweed seasonal pilsner microbrew so I can show you how to make 80k a month and only working 2 hours a day"

@Jeremy A. this is the wrong reaction to the problem. What if a you had a 90 year old tenant who fell asleep leaving the stove on and started a fire? It happens all the time in assisted living. I had a 13 year old tenant start a grease fire. Should I stipulate nobody under 18 can use the stove? 

You can't screen for alcoholism, but you can screen for the effect. I had an applicant who had three DWI on their record. He was driving with a revoked license when he looked at the property. I denied his application. Not because he was an alcoholic, but because of the out-of-control behavior, recent felonies and driving with a revoked license. Tenants who are in jail have trouble paying rent.

In your case, I would write up a lease violation for negligence. Let him know (in writing) that his reckless behavior put the property and human life at risk. Should he continue living there, there will be no tolerance for such behavior. Give him the option to leave. Send him a bill for reimbursement on the damage. Require renters insurance if you do not already.

You do need to deal with the situation, because fires are a serious matter. They can result in your insurance coverage being dropped. Worse, they can result in human harm. 

Create Lasting Wealth Through Real Estate

Join the millions of people achieving financial freedom through the power of real estate investing

Start here