Drug activities in my property

15 Replies | Portland, Oregon

I was recently informed that there was drug activities in one of the units. Also there have been vandalism and coin operated laundry got broken into that possibly related to the same tenant. However, the other tenants who reported to the management company didn't want to bear witness and new tenants who moved in less than a month requesting for termination. Situation like this without any photo, video and witness is impossible to put a case of cause eviction together. Besides paying $3,300 90 days for no cause to get rid of the tenant, I was wondering if you guys have other thoughts to share with. Thanks!

Hi Kelvin, 

Sorry to hear about the issues with your property. I'd lean on your PM company to find a for-cause eviction reason. Lets be honest, if they're stealing and doing drugs then there is likely other activity that will qualify them for an expedited exit from your property!

Also, you could consider one of the digital monitoring systems that are really cost effective (I believe there's a company that is a sponsor of the BP Podcast). Inform the tenants that due to security concerns the common areas will now be under surveillance (maybe check with a real estate lawyer to ensure that will hold up in landlord/tenant court) and then see what you see. 

Hope that helps! 

Mathew

Sorry to here about your issues Kelvin. I've been there myself with inherited tenants. We issued them a no cause and 2 months later the relocation ordinance was passed and made retroactive. We ended up recending the notice, installing a surveillance system on the property and documenting any activities that we could write them up for. We were also fortunate that we also had tenants that we could rely on to write up anything they were doing in addition to our surveillance. It took us 4 months and thousands of dollars in lawyer fees (he got a free lawyer), lost rent and damages but we did get him out. In hindsight it would have been cheaper to pay him to move but that would be depedant on whether he actually moved or just took the money and made me go to court anyway. If documentation and with cause isn't an option for you it may just be cheaper to give them the money to get out. Its better than loosing the good tenants you do have. 

Originally posted by @Zach Davis :

Sorry to here about your issues Kelvin. I've been there myself with inherited tenants. We issued them a no cause and 2 months later the relocation ordinance was passed and made retroactive. We ended up recending the notice, installing a surveillance system on the property and documenting any activities that we could write them up for. We were also fortunate that we also had tenants that we could rely on to write up anything they were doing in addition to our surveillance. It took us 4 months and thousands of dollars in lawyer fees (he got a free lawyer), lost rent and damages but we did get him out. In hindsight it would have been cheaper to pay him to move but that would be depedant on whether he actually moved or just took the money and made me go to court anyway. If documentation and with cause isn't an option for you it may just be cheaper to give them the money to get out. Its better than loosing the good tenants you do have. 

Did you report the drug activities to the Police? I did it last nite anyway and I hope they may have time to call me back. Also I was thinking sending letters to all resident including the drug lord unit about receiving criminal activities reports from the residents and now Portland Police has been getting involved into investigation.  Do you think it is will be helpful to settle the good residents concern and expedites the drug lord moving out the property?

Yes, the police were well aware of the issues with many of the residents at the time we purchased those properties. They were as helpful as they could be in this day and age but the reality is their hands are tied from a lot of different sides. Unless your tenant is a fairly large distributor worth the DA building a case against its unlikely they will really be able to do anything to make a difference. 

As far as the letters go, I don't think it would hurt as long as its done according to the law but there too I doubt it will make a substantial difference. In my experience these people have been through this before and know the protections and freebies they can get to fight you. Even if it does make a difference it will be very short term. I've found when you have tenants with issues like that they will either continue to do it knowing they will most likely loose and eventually have to move (big deal, they can always find a slumlord to rent to them), or continue and hide it better which makes it harder on you or your PM to document. 

Even with the pay out it can still be more cost effective to give a no cause. The other way would be to document and give them a with cause, which they will most likely "cure", then you can continue to document their unlawful activities and serve a repeat violation notice when they slip up again. Which one you use really depends on your individual  circumstances. 

Originally posted by @Zach Davis :

Yes, the police were well aware of the issues with many of the residents at the time we purchased those properties. They were as helpful as they could be in this day and age but the reality is their hands are tied from a lot of different sides. Unless your tenant is a fairly large distributor worth the DA building a case against its unlikely they will really be able to do anything to make a difference. 

As far as the letters go, I don't think it would hurt as long as its done according to the law but there too I doubt it will make a substantial difference. In my experience these people have been through this before and know the protections and freebies they can get to fight you. Even if it does make a difference it will be very short term. I've found when you have tenants with issues like that they will either continue to do it knowing they will most likely loose and eventually have to move (big deal, they can always find a slumlord to rent to them), or continue and hide it better which makes it harder on you or your PM to document. 

Thanks Zach for sharing your thoughts. Drug lord just like a roaches that has already immunized from PM notices and Police. Also thanks for Chloe Eudaly to create this perfect environment for supporting criminal activities and yet punishing the owner for being a good responsible citizen keeping the property crime free. If I were to blame someone, it would be the PM who allowed the drug lord moving in at the first hand.

@Kelvin Lee this right here...."If I were to blame someone, it would be the PM who allowed the drug lord moving in at the first hand.". 

It comes down to management and control. The property manager needs to screen well and then enforce the lease/landlord tenant law well. Tenants that don't care for other tenants (or the property, or the neighborhood, or...) won't want to stay in a well managed complex. Since that management hasn't been present. There are really two ways to go. Like Mathew and Zach said, install cameras, begin documenting what can be documented and send non compliant notices when appropriate and often. Or you can give no cause notice, pay relocation and move on. It'll probably cost you less in the long run, but more importantly, be better for your other tenants and their well being. After serving notice, you could even negotiate a reward based move out plan with a higher payout to get them out sooner, while helping your other tenants out sooner as well.

I think this is a golden thread, with a huge lesson that is right in front of us but is sometimes hard to see through the trees. This is a business and we need to take our emotions and frustrations out of it...I would want to get the police and everyone else involved, have the PM take care of it, make an example, etc. But once you set those "want" aside and look at the facts, you realize that like was said, it's going to be long and expensive road. Way better to just pay up front and get them out ASAP. You'll be doing better by your tenants, your business, and you'll greatly reduce the stress/headache factor. 

Great reminder!

@Kelvin Lee not sure how big your property is. If its large you can offer the local police department to use "one" of your units for dog training to sniff drugs. I have heard this helps clean up a property quick. You can post a flyer on doors letting the tenants know.

I have contacted Portland Police K-9 unit and they will be stopping by the property for evaluation. It will be a good demonstration to the residents and at the same time pushing the drug tenant to the edge. Thanks for this great idea!  

When you thought the drug activities was about to slow down after beefing up the patrol, then it comes the wave of abandoned vehicles started showed up in the parking lot one after another. The tenant uses the parking lot for fixing the vehicle in a parking lot as if it were his auto shop. Then you started wondering who encourages behavior as such? The PM does for the reason to avoid confrontation. Not only that the PM have been keeping this behind me for a long time, they used me as a scapegoat when explaining the tow policy. 

The tenant said: "I don't hate you (PM), I hate the landlord and he discriminated me!"

What does it tell you when seeing this kind of respond?

The drug problem is one that is very rarely solved by police involvement. Most dealers are small potatoes and not worth their time to deal with.

I have some landlord friends that deal with this type of issue in their part of town regularly by simply getting a few friends together and making a visit to the tenant in question. A friendly conversation with them pointing out the advantages of them moving and the consequences of staying generally gets results. Keeping in mind that you are dealing with social low life's that very rarely complain to anyone. After all the police are not their friends.

I will admit I have participated a couple of times over the years and can attest to the fact that it is quite successful.

Thanks for the feedback. I certainly will let the new PM handle it in a more liberal way. On the other hand, it's time to let go of this coward PM who only uses the owner shielding themselves for confrontation.