tenant in possession of marijuana

17 Replies

I do co-living rentals. So different people in different rooms. I was over at the property to show a vacant room to a prospective tenant. He and both could smell the strong unmistakable aroma of weed from a tenant's room. We have a very strong No weed policy that clearly spells no possession or growing of weed in addition to smoking or any other method of consumption in or around the house.

I run across the offending tenant who after first denying confesses to having weed in his possession.Note:  I did not catch him smoking weed. Long story short I tried to talk him into an amicable lease termination at the end of this month. He is a young chap of around 23 and brash, he refused and suggested I can go ahead and do what I want. 

This is in San Jose, CA. With all the rapidly evolving laws what do you think is my best recourse here. I am not looking for obvious replies like, serve him a 3 day notice, go to an attorney etc. In particular I am seeking pragmatic and constrictive help on how to get this guy out. Please note that this is not an apartment - rather he is renting a single room in a house and tenants in other rooms are not going to report him but will complain that they have asthma or other respiratory conditions and want to quit.

Any actionable and constructive  (operational) suggestions are much appreciated.

Well given recent moratoriums and law changes, you should seek a lawyer first. Not only will they give you guidance on what the local laws are around eviction but also if your weed clause in the lease is even legally binding. Because it's legal in CA, he may be well within his rights to have possession of it. If there's a clause in your lease agreement that is against the law (e.g. prohibiting tenants to have possession of marijuana, possibly) it could render the entire contract out of good standing. This is why you need to check with a lawyer first.

If the lawyer gives you the green light to evict, ask them about remediation. If he is refusing to leave you may need to hire someone to kick him out and I would imagine a lawyer that specializes in this or a large property manager would have a contact for you.

If the lawyer gives you the red light you really have no choice but to wait until the end of the lease term and then not renew the lease. I wouldn't inform the tenant of this until about a month before (or whatever the minimum length is in your lease) that you won't be re-signing him as to not cause any more tension in the relationship which could result in damaged property or him not paying rent.

It is not illegal to possess or smoke marijuana in California. He could also have a cat, bird, snake, dog, pig or even a small pony as an emotional support animal. Someone with asthma or other real medical conditions has less rights than someone who wants to get high and play with their pony.

This is the disadvantage of rent by the room. The other tenants will not put up with it. They will just leave the property when their leases are up. YOU need to deal with this ASAP.

Document the conversation by sending him a text or email stating, per our conversation smoking marijuana (or anything) in this property is prohibited for health reasons of other occupants. I just want to confirm you understand and will not be doing this in the future. Follow that up with a notice of lease violation detailing the offense and the conversation you had with him. Mark it as the first offense. I would do three strikes and then move to eviction. Maybe the formality and intensity with which you treat this issue will force him to stop smoking it. 

You can also consider other ideas like buying a high quality air filtration system or suggesting to the tenant that he consume edibles instead of smoking it. Or ask him to open the window when smoking. The point is if he isn't going to stop it and you aren't going to evict him, try to work with him so it is less of an issue.

Another option is buying him out of his lease, known as cash for keys. I prefer eviction, but in CA it may be faster to just pay him money. 

Originally posted by @Joe Splitrock :

It is not illegal to possess or smoke marijuana in California. He could also have a cat, bird, snake, dog, pig or even a small pony as an emotional support animal. Someone with asthma or other real medical conditions has less rights than someone who wants to get high and play with their pony.

This is the disadvantage of rent by the room. The other tenants will not put up with it. They will just leave the property when their leases are up. YOU need to deal with this ASAP.

Document the conversation by sending him a text or email stating, per our conversation smoking marijuana (or anything) in this property is prohibited for health reasons of other occupants. I just want to confirm you understand and will not be doing this in the future. Follow that up with a notice of lease violation detailing the offense and the conversation you had with him. Mark it as the first offense. I would do three strikes and then move to eviction. Maybe the formality and intensity with which you treat this issue will force him to stop smoking it. 

You can also consider other ideas like buying a high quality air filtration system or suggesting to the tenant that he consume edibles instead of smoking it. Or ask him to open the window when smoking. The point is if he isn't going to stop it and you aren't going to evict him, try to work with him so it is less of an issue.

Another option is buying him out of his lease, known as cash for keys. I prefer eviction, but in CA it may be faster to just pay him money. 

its San Jose just step out side and smoke your doobie..  done no issue.. 

Originally posted by Jay Hinrichs:
Originally posted by @Joe Splitrock :

It is not illegal to possess or smoke marijuana in California. He could also have a cat, bird, snake, dog, pig or even a small pony as an emotional support animal. Someone with asthma or other real medical conditions has less rights than someone who wants to get high and play with their pony.

This is the disadvantage of rent by the room. The other tenants will not put up with it. They will just leave the property when their leases are up. YOU need to deal with this ASAP.

Document the conversation by sending him a text or email stating, per our conversation smoking marijuana (or anything) in this property is prohibited for health reasons of other occupants. I just want to confirm you understand and will not be doing this in the future. Follow that up with a notice of lease violation detailing the offense and the conversation you had with him. Mark it as the first offense. I would do three strikes and then move to eviction. Maybe the formality and intensity with which you treat this issue will force him to stop smoking it. 

You can also consider other ideas like buying a high quality air filtration system or suggesting to the tenant that he consume edibles instead of smoking it. Or ask him to open the window when smoking. The point is if he isn't going to stop it and you aren't going to evict him, try to work with him so it is less of an issue.

Another option is buying him out of his lease, known as cash for keys. I prefer eviction, but in CA it may be faster to just pay him money. 

its San Jose just step out side and smoke your doobie..  done no issue.. 

I agree. That would have been my conversation with the tenant. I would say, "I don't care if you smoke weed, just please do it outside." I fear the original poster skipped the "please don't smoke inside" part and went straight to "leave my property". 

Originally posted by @Joe Splitrock :

I agree. That would have been my conversation with the tenant. I would say, "I don't care if you smoke weed, just please do it outside." I fear the original poster skipped the "please don't smoke inside" part and went straight to "leave my property".

I rented an apartment right out of high school in San Jose  ( prior to buying my first home the next year) and the tenant below smoked his doobie every night after dinner out on the porch and it waffed up to our apartment.. this was 1975.. LOL.

So today just ask them like ALL SMOKERS IN CA its illegal to smoke in doors .. we are not talking about adverse weather at any time of the year.  I was just in Los Altos Friday night for a meetup and one of the attendees stepped out back of the Pizza joint and fired up a doobie asked if I wanted a hit.. told him if i did that you have to pick me up from the floor.. And this with a group of VERY well to do bay area investors who own all sorts of Bay Area MF etc.   So bottom line all or most landlords have a smoking policy IE no smoking in my rental so just do that right ?  :)

Originally posted by Jay Hinrichs:
Originally posted by @Joe Splitrock :

I agree. That would have been my conversation with the tenant. I would say, "I don't care if you smoke weed, just please do it outside." I fear the original poster skipped the "please don't smoke inside" part and went straight to "leave my property".

I rented an apartment right out of high school in San Jose  ( prior to buying my first home the next year) and the tenant below smoked his doobie every night after dinner out on the porch and it waffed up to our apartment.. this was 1975.. LOL.

So today just ask them like ALL SMOKERS IN CA its illegal to smoke in doors .. we are not talking about adverse weather at any time of the year.  I was just in Los Altos Friday night for a meetup and one of the attendees stepped out back of the Pizza joint and fired up a doobie asked if I wanted a hit.. told him if i did that you have to pick me up from the floor.. And this with a group of VERY well to do bay area investors who own all sorts of Bay Area MF etc.   So bottom line all or most landlords have a smoking policy IE no smoking in my rental so just do that right ?  :)

There is two key points here:

1. Smoke outside

2. Invite your colleagues / friends / roommates to join.

@Carlos Lez

This is what I would do.

First of all, I despise cigarette smoking and the stench they leave behind their activities. I remember enjoying great pot, hash, and some other stuff quite a bit.

I no longer use, by my own choice, but I can appreciate the fact that such a habit will be hard to stop, cold turkey.

So, it's time to pay for the sins. Eviction is an option, but how about insisting that he vacate his room and wash the walls floor, and ceiling with TSP until all the smell is gone. Then, have someone mask the room, and get that boy a bucket of paint and a brush!

Go ahead and clean or replace with new, any window curtains or blinds.

Add up the cost of materials, and charge him a bill for them. Tell him that the bill will be forgiven if he keeps smoke free on your property. Tell him that a second time means he will be evicted and sued for damages.

Yeah you need to work for it. No you shouldn't need to. But you didn't want that "toss the bum out" suggestion.

My idea is to first let him know you still like him.

He probably IS a nice guy!

However, the stench from smokers must be removed. If he wants to stay, he has to work to stay!

If he will not work to stay, he will not stop using.

Ya gotta have his mess cleaned anyway, so see if he really wants to stay and atone for his acts.

For a young kid, this is what I would do.

@Carlos Lez , let it go, collect your rent and forget about it. He’s not hurting anyone.

If you just able to let it go, see if you can talk amicably with him and settle on a 120 day lease termination provided he doesn’t smoke on property and cause other tenant to complain. At the end of 120 days you can spend $1200 on a make ready, lose a couple of months rent, pay a lease commission and possibly end up with a worse tenant. Are you in business to make money or to get upset with a paying customer?

Originally posted by Daniel Smyth:

@Carlos Lez

This is what I would do.

First of all, I despise cigarette smoking and the stench they leave behind their activities. I remember enjoying great pot, hash, and some other stuff quite a bit.

I no longer use, by my own choice, but I can appreciate the fact that such a habit will be hard to stop, cold turkey.

So, it's time to pay for the sins. Eviction is an option, but how about insisting that he vacate his room and wash the walls floor, and ceiling with TSP until all the smell is gone. Then, have someone mask the room, and get that boy a bucket of paint and a brush!

Go ahead and clean or replace with new, any window curtains or blinds.

Add up the cost of materials, and charge him a bill for them. Tell him that the bill will be forgiven if he keeps smoke free on your property. Tell him that a second time means he will be evicted and sued for damages.

Yeah you need to work for it. No you shouldn't need to. But you didn't want that "toss the bum out" suggestion.

My idea is to first let him know you still like him.

He probably IS a nice guy!

However, the stench from smokers must be removed. If he wants to stay, he has to work to stay!

If he will not work to stay, he will not stop using.

Ya gotta have his mess cleaned anyway, so see if he really wants to stay and atone for his acts.

For a young kid, this is what I would do.

We are talking about marijuana and not cigarettes. Nicotine free n cigarettes is what leaves a lasting residue and smell. Weed does not have nicotine nor a lasting smell

Originally posted by @Joe Splitrock :

It is not illegal to possess or smoke marijuana in California. He could also have a cat, bird, snake, dog, pig or even a small pony as an emotional support animal. Someone with asthma or other real medical conditions has less rights than someone who wants to get high and play with their pony.

This is the disadvantage of rent by the room. The other tenants will not put up with it. They will just leave the property when their leases are up. YOU need to deal with this ASAP.

Document the conversation by sending him a text or email stating, per our conversation smoking marijuana (or anything) in this property is prohibited for health reasons of other occupants. I just want to confirm you understand and will not be doing this in the future. Follow that up with a notice of lease violation detailing the offense and the conversation you had with him. Mark it as the first offense. I would do three strikes and then move to eviction. Maybe the formality and intensity with which you treat this issue will force him to stop smoking it. 

You can also consider other ideas like buying a high quality air filtration system or suggesting to the tenant that he consume edibles instead of smoking it. Or ask him to open the window when smoking. The point is if he isn't going to stop it and you aren't going to evict him, try to work with him so it is less of an issue.

Another option is buying him out of his lease, known as cash for keys. I prefer eviction, but in CA it may be faster to just pay him money. 

Great points Joe. The guy insists he will stay and I can do what I want to do, aka no cash for keys or any negotiation. He is locked into a 1 year lease, so I am stuck in a tight spot. There will be other tenants moving in August 1st and I can bet that they will throw in the towel with this situation and want to quit on their 1 year leases. Nobody os going to want to confront him and will ask me to resolve this issue and this guy is not going to move easily. He is a young 23 yrs old fellow going to a local university and has a good background check with decent credit. I don't know if there are other avenues to get him to move.

People who are into this stuff cannot change they just need to find a different place that is 420 friendly. Expecting that he will change or be considerate to other housemates is not going to happen. So this is the sum and substance of this situation. If anyone has any practical suggestions to get him out quick,  that is the need of the hour. Evictions (if they are even possible in this situation) are a lost cause with courts backed up for months.

Originally posted by @Chad Hale :

@Carlos Lez  San Jose is passing/changing smoking laws.  Perhaps you can use this to help your situation in addition to the advice already given.

https://www.sanjoseca.gov/your...

Chad, thanks for that link. There appear to be things in the works regarding this issue however nothing appears to have been ratified yet.

I should further mention, that this house is situated across the street from an elementary school, so well within 1000ft of the school. There was some federal code that prohibited use of marijuana within a 1000ft of a school in session, which my most recent reading of has been further relaxed. Further, how do you prove someone is actually smoke it when the school is in session etc. or even otherwise prove they are doing it unless you just happen to catch them.

Originally posted by Carlos Lez:
Originally posted by @Joe Splitrock :

It is not illegal to possess or smoke marijuana in California. He could also have a cat, bird, snake, dog, pig or even a small pony as an emotional support animal. Someone with asthma or other real medical conditions has less rights than someone who wants to get high and play with their pony.

This is the disadvantage of rent by the room. The other tenants will not put up with it. They will just leave the property when their leases are up. YOU need to deal with this ASAP.

Document the conversation by sending him a text or email stating, per our conversation smoking marijuana (or anything) in this property is prohibited for health reasons of other occupants. I just want to confirm you understand and will not be doing this in the future. Follow that up with a notice of lease violation detailing the offense and the conversation you had with him. Mark it as the first offense. I would do three strikes and then move to eviction. Maybe the formality and intensity with which you treat this issue will force him to stop smoking it. 

You can also consider other ideas like buying a high quality air filtration system or suggesting to the tenant that he consume edibles instead of smoking it. Or ask him to open the window when smoking. The point is if he isn't going to stop it and you aren't going to evict him, try to work with him so it is less of an issue.

Another option is buying him out of his lease, known as cash for keys. I prefer eviction, but in CA it may be faster to just pay him money. 

Great points Joe. The guy insists he will stay and I can do what I want to do, aka no cash for keys or any negotiation. He is locked into a 1 year lease, so I am stuck in a tight spot. There will be other tenants moving in August 1st and I can bet that they will throw in the towel with this situation and want to quit on their 1 year leases. Nobody os going to want to confront him and will ask me to resolve this issue and this guy is not going to move easily. He is a young 23 yrs old fellow going to a local university and has a good background check with decent credit. I don't know if there are other avenues to get him to move.

People who are into this stuff cannot change they just need to find a different place that is 420 friendly. Expecting that he will change or be considerate to other housemates is not going to happen. So this is the sum and substance of this situation. If anyone has any practical suggestions to get him out quick,  that is the need of the hour. Evictions (if they are even possible in this situation) are a lost cause with courts backed up for months.

I know you asked him to leave, but did you try asking him to not smoke inside the property? 

You seem convinced he will not change or be considerate, but that is your own bias. How you talk to people has a direct result on influencing them. My guess is you were confrontational and abrasive, so he got defensive. 

I would have a follow up conversation and tell him, I am sorry if I reacted strongly to your pot smoking in the property. I don't care if you smoke, but can you please just do it outside? You signed a lease stating you wouldn't smoke indoors. California state law doesn't even allow smoking indoors for air quality reasons, so when tenants complain to me, I have to take action. I would rather you stay in the property and NOT smoke indoors, but if I get more complaints of you smoking indoors, I have to involve my attorney. You are young and have a good credit report with no evictions, so I am sure you don't want me to take you to court for eviction. I don't want to pay the attorney fees, but I am forced to if this affects other tenants. Can you please just smoke the pot outside?

Hand him a written lease violation at the same time that is titled 1st violation. Tell him you are legally required to document all lease violations. He needs to know it is serious. 

You keep asking for suggestions and I have given solid advice to you. I am not sure what else to do. You know the only way to force someone out is eviction. It is better to work with him, then against him. Good luck evicting him in California anyways. It may take months to get to court and you may not even have enough evidence to win. Threat of eviction is more likely to work than actual eviction.

Sounds like you have a bias against marijuana and are making weak legal arguments. As other's have said, calmly tell him that smoking ANYTHING in doors is a violation of the lease and disruptive to the other tenants. If it continues you will proceed with an eviction.