Even with proper screening, it may come to light during your tenant’s tenancy that they are involved with illegal drugs, either selling or using. Not only will drugs ruin your tenant’s life, but they will significantly affect yours as well. With drugs come late rent and a neglected house — usually accompanied by filth, suspicious burn markings in the flooring, an overgrown lawn, and frequent shady visitors. Tenants on illegal drugs or dealing illegal drugs are bad for business. Not only will they ruin your property, but in a multifamily property, they will drive other good tenants away.
Related: 7 Advanced Tenant Screening Tips (So You’re Not Fooled by Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing)
When it comes to illegal drugs, there are some signs that indicate there is a problem:
- Tenant begins paying rent later and later every month
- Tenant falls behind on utility payments
- Tenant ignores problems
- Tenant ignores the landlord
- Tenant won’t let maintenance inside the rental
- The exterior of the property shows neglect: garbage, junk, or overgrown lawn
- Tenant has multiple visitors at all times of the day who come and go quickly
- Tenant’s housekeeping shows severe neglect
- Tenant uses extreme security measures
- Tenant keeps their blinds or curtains closed at all times
- Tenant exhibits illogical behavior
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Your Options if You Find Your Tenant is Involved With Drugs
Of course, though none of these activities or actions in and of themselves are proof that your tenant is involved in shady dealings, they can be evidence of it. If you have legitimate reasons for believing your tenant is involved with drugs, you have a serious and potentially dangerous problem on your hands. If they are on a month-to-month agreement, simply do not renew it. If they are on a term lease, you have a couple options: Cash for Keys or eviction. Your lease should have a clause or addendum that prohibits drug use, dealing, and any other illegal activity. However, trying to prove a tenant is dealing drugs can be difficult, which is why in our business, we prefer to use the Cash for Keys option rather than eviction when dealing with situations such as this.
Cash for Keys
Cash for Keys is simply the practice of paying your tenant to move out, knowing that the cost of paying a tenant is cheaper and easier than trying to evict. In the past when we have become suspicious that the tenant is involved with illegal activity, we contact them and let them know their tenancy is not working out, but we would like to help them get into a new place.
This is where the cash comes in — we offer them a set amount, generally between $300–$500 to be completely moved out of the home by a certain date, usually within 7–14 days. We explain that in order to receive the cash, the home must be free of all personal belongings and clean. When dealing with a tenant involved with drugs, this method has almost always worked for us. Because a tenant involved in this type of activity cannot keep their life together, if they didn’t bite at our offer of cash, we would simply find some other form of lease non-compliance and evict them over that as quickly as possible. Offering cash is simply the easiest and quickest way to remove them from the property.
[This article is an excerpt from Brandon Turner’s The Book on Managing Rental Properties. Be sure to check out the full book here!]
Have you ever had to deal with a tenant involved with drugs? How did you handle the situation?
Let me know with a comment!