Drug Use by Other Tenants; Used Syringes Discarded in Common Area

10 Replies

I own a condo in a gentrifying neighborhood that has taken an ugly turn due to Covid and a high-profile police brutality case nearby (think BLM). I have excellent tenants in a complex of 12 units. It appears there's another tenant selling drugs, and as a result junkies come and go from the property and use drugs in the common areas. There are used syringes and condoms in the hallways and stairwells. We're working on getting who we suspect is the problem tenant out but it's challenging in the eviction moratorium environment without catching them dead-to-rights selling drugs. We don't have a doorman and owners are reluctant to shell out for security. The police precinct nearby was destroyed during a protest and it is challenging to get the cops to come if there isn't a crime in progress. My tenant sends me pictures of used needles in the hallway and short of working toward improving security and removing problem tenants, which are not quick or inexpensive processes, I'm at a loss. Any advice? 

I'm guessing you are in NYC correct?  Most other locations don't consider hiring a doorman.

Cameras are really cheap now.  If you have access to a ethernet-linked internet access, we like Reolink.  If you only have access to wifi, wyze make a good cheap camera that may help you.

Put a nice sticker on the door that all hallways are monitored by camera.

Hi Michael,

If it were mine, I'd:

(1)  Boot the dealer; and

(2)  Pay an independent contractor to clean the area and dispose of the waste; and

(3)  Possibly vend it off due to the increased crime/burned down Police Station (lack of PD response) in the area.

Good Luck! 

There are ways to encourage someone to leave. You can ask the police to keep an eye on the neighborhood, set up cameras inside or outside to monitor who comes and goes and share that with police, conduct frequent visits yourself, etc.

You can also post notice on the door that you know what they're up to and you want them to leave. Some criminals are willing to disappear if they think they've been caught.

You could schedule inspections regularly and perhaps scare the tenant into leaving.

Post notice on the door stating you know what they are up to and that you want them out in X days.

Stop in for a friendly visit with a few friends, crack a cold one on the couch, and explain how their health may benefit from living somewhere else, like Kansas.

Your taxes are going to a legal system that no longer protects you. It may be time to get creative - within the law - and find your own ways to motivate the tenant to leave.

Greg Scott--do you then hire someone to watch the feed? That's another expense the condo owners have pushed back on. We also expect cameras to get destroyed.

Scott Mac--what kind of independent contractor cleans up needles? Have any recommendations or can you put me in the direction of any (maybe they're all local)?

Nathan G.--all good ideas. Unfortunately we've been pretty forthright with our accusations but folks don't seem to care because we have little authority to collect fines and we can't evict.

Thank each of you for your very high-quality responses!

Do you own all of the units or just one?  I would post signs that the area is under surveillance.  Put the cameras high enough up that they are hard to reach and you can have multiple ones up so if they destroy one, you have that recorded by another.  Put them in the common areas where you are finding needles-you will then get it on tape (so to speak).

I agree with the others who say do inspections.  Find a reason to spend more time on site-paint the hallways.

My first recommendation would be offering a "quick 50" to tenants. Having someone else share the info on who is causing the issues would potentially help in court. Also, you can place security cameras in the trouble areas fairly easily. Both of these seem to be pretty simple solutions. I would also like to point out that depending on how the lease is worded, if you have decent proof on the culprit, this is not considered a protected eviction. The moratorium is based on late rent, not violations of the lease agreement.

Private security. The type that specializes in hands on problem solving. My guess is that in NYC there are some 6 foot 5 bouncers who are out of work and would be happy for a cash side job right about now. 

Originally posted by @Michael Miller :

We need to essentially catch the criminal in the act and have evidence to evict on the basis of crime, unfortunately.

There are no hands off solutions for this class of property.  If you want them out, you will need to open your mindset and take action.

Syringes and used condoms are your evidence...along with your lease agreement prohibiting crime and requiring the proper maintenance of the premises.  My point is that a drug dealer is not going to show up to refute the evidence.  They will move to another location where owners are unwilling to do anything.  If you feel that you need additional evidence, do unit inspections and find more.  Or pay a part time guard or bouncer to sit over there for a night or two on a weekend.