What’s the best way to handle drug activity?

19 Replies

I was tipped off by one of my tenants that they have been noticing multiple vehicles stopping by my apartment building at all hours of the day and through the night. He also informed me that the tenant involved had been arrested for drug possession and is now jobless. Multiple ideas come to mind on how to handle it, but I would like to hear other thoughts or actions that have proven successful.

Thanks in advance!

@Bjorn Ahlblad thanks Bjorn! There is a plan for cameras 👍🏼 and there already is a motion sensor light that turns on, but it hasn’t deterred the activity...I want the behaviors to stop...and quite frankly there to be no narcotics on my property. I’m trying to determine the best way to address the issue directly, since there are tenants with children and one tenant is quite frustrated.

Can you just give them notice to move out?  If not, there must be something in your lease about not bothering other tenants.  So, give them a 3 day notice to stop or quit for violating the quiet enjoyment of the other tenants or something like that.  Keep giving them 3 day notices to quit making noise or whatever else you can think of that would be legal and related to what they're doing and that violates your lease.  If you make it easier for them to leave than to stay - they'll leave.

You could also offer to let them move out before their lease is up - as in, you won't evict them if they agree to go quietly.

You need to get them out asap. Check your lease about illegal activities, quiet enjoyment etc. Send a lease violation letter and 30 day notice. The last thing you want is for the police to conduct a drug bust. They don't pay to fix the damage they cause and it could be substantial.

@Elijah VanDenBerg Tell the tenant who reported the issue that you will look into it but if they feel unsafe they should call the authorities like they would in any other situation.

From there I would try to figure out a way to confirm what the reporting tenant is alleging and go have a conversation with the tenant in question and try to work something out with him leaving ASAP. If he doesn’t comply you have to do what you have to do.

I would request that the person who reported this activity to you to have them give you a complaint in writing.  Once you have the written complaint I would then contact the police for "calls for service."  I think it is key to have documented "third party" complaints before taking action.  The reason being, it helps protect you from being accused by the the tenant for targeting and will also help in building a case to have the tenant eventually evicted. 

Hate to say it, but what kind of drugs are allegedly being sold?  In many areas, smoking or dealing small amounts of weed won't get the attention of the police; harder drugs usually will.  

Have the neighbors keep a diary, supply you with written complaint(s) and set up video in common areas--make sure there are time/date stamps on the recordings.  Then call the police or drug task force, supply them with evidence, and let them do what they do.

In our leases, any type of illegal drug activity is cause for eviction, based on a preponderance of the evidence, and we have successfully evicted non-conforming tenants.

Good luck.

@Elijah VanDenBerg the county may have a searchable arrest database. If you can find a record that he has been recently arrested for drugs and your lease or tenant criteria specifies no drug charges then it may be grounds to evict.

I have a letter that I call my invitation to move letter that I send to drug dealers.
In that letter, I do not make ANY accusations, I enumerate my observations,
For example: on Mar 10 between 1-1:20 we saw 8 cars pull up and idle near your apartment, occupants exited the cars and spent 2-4 minutes each inside your apartment, then exited your apartment and drove off. We saw similar activities again on XXX date.
Then we note how this activity inconveniences other tenants, blocking mailboxes and driveways creating excess traffic or causing noise complaints whatever...
Then we list the section of the lease that prohibits conducting business in the apartment and say that these activities are consistent with some retail activity and as such are a violation of the lease noting the paragraph.
Then we congratulate the tenants on their entrepreneurial spirit but say that we think the best solution is for them to move and offer to waive penalties and fees and return the security deposit within 24 hours of move out if the apartment is left empty and clean (with clean fixtures and appliances), less any past due balances.
We say let us know by (about a week later) to give them time to find a new place and then let them know if they decide not to move and the activities continue, we'll share our observations with the local police department and encourage the neighbors to phone in police complaints as well.

We've now done this twice and both times the drug dealers moved, left our place reasonably clean, and expressed appreciation for the prompt deposit return. It's usually young girls that obtain the apartments and off-lease "boyfriends" conducting the business. Then they screw over the girls when they lose their apartments and don't help them move or clean or anything.  

You might want to do a maintenance inspection to see if they are cooking there too.

Depends on what they are selling. Is it herb? Who cares. Honestly I don’t care if someone is slinging on my properties as long as they take care of the place and pay rent on time. I’ve had several dealers as tenants over the years. They were just fine tenants.

And I have had one rental where there was a drive by and someone got shot in the back and paralyzed from the waist down in my house. That was a load of fun. Not drug dealers there though. Was a girl that was cheating on her gangster boyfriend so they retaliated with Shooting the house up. Funny thing is this house is in a smoking hot neighborhood now.

@Elijah VanDenBerg ,

Have you checked the court system to verify if he was or wasn't arrested?   Also google his name and see if there have been any news story.    When you know what the facts are, then you can act accordingly!

 Once you verify, I'd probably just talk with him about returning the security deposit and maybe doing a cash for keys to move him along quickly.

I had an apartment that had some pretty serious drug use and trafficking, along with prostitution issues. I’m not sure of the best way to handle it, but I can share what I did.

There was a child living there so once I figured out what was going on I made a police report and contacted child services. Then I installed cameras all over the property (she did not like that at all). Those steps did not correct the behavior or issue, so next I discontinued her private entrance for maintenance issues and forced her and all her BS through the main entrance, covered by very obvious cameras. That move slowed the problem a little. She stopped paying rent of course, so I hit her with a 7 and 30 day notice. It is an owner occupy 4 plex so I would sometimes sit on the front steps and scare off the junkies and Johns. When it became apparent she wouldn’t be leaving on her own I offered her $1000 bucks to get out in a week, she accepted the offer on the spot but never followed through. In the end I had to go through the whole eviction process which took about 7 weeks from the day I served the notices.