Mike's Blog


Drug Arrests at your Rental Property? How to handle the situation.

Drug Arrests at your Rental Property? How to handle the situation.

I recently had the joy of receiving letters from my local law enforcement informing me that there had been drug related arrests at two of my properties. This has NEVER happened to me so I automatically freaked out. I've heard horror stories of landlords being fined by the city and sometimes- even forfeiting the property.

Although these properties are my lower end properties- I was surprised to hear about the arrests. I was surprised because the arrests were at homes I NEVER expected it from. Now I've had tenants in the past that it would not have surprised me. But I got rid of that trash as quickly as I could.

So when I received the letters- I was obviously concerned. I think the fear came from my lack of education of how to deal with such a situation.

What happens now? How do I get the tenants out?

Am I going to be fined?

Am I going to lose the house

I quickly educated myself and thought I would share what I learned in case you or your clients are ever in this situation

What happens now? How do I get the tenants out? Upon receiving the letter- I immediately called the police department- assuring them of my intentions to remove the tenant and offering any help I possibly can in their investigation. I had to go by the office to get a copy of the police report.

The next step is issue a 72 hour notice to vacate the premises. Unlike evicting for non-payment of rent where you have to give 5 or 7 days notice-you only need to give 72 hours notice. Check you local laws- this could be different in your locality.

If after 72 hours the tenant has not vacated(or is still in jail), head on down to the Clerks office just like you would for a eviction for non-payment. You'll still fill out the Unlawful Detainer Warrant just like you would for a normal eviction. The good news is- instead of waiting 20-30 days for a court date- most localities allow you get a 15 day court date if you have the police report. YOU MUST HAVE THE POLICE REPORT WHEN YOU FILL OUT THE UDW. Again- this could be different in your area. From here- the process is the same as a normal eviction. You go to court- the judge decides if the tenant should stay or go- most likely go for a drug arrest, and he gives them a time-frame to be out of the house.

Am I going to be fined? Possibly. This is at the discretion of the city. The key for government action against landlords is the level of "nuisance" caused by the offending property. Nuisance in this case is "a pervasive, continuing and serious condition that threatens public health, safety or morals."[Every Tenant's Legal Guide] So basically put- if the problem is ongoing- and the landlord doesn't do anything to remedy the situation... the landlord is at risk of receiving a fine.

Am I going to lose the house If you're a responsible landlord- which I'm sure everyone on here is... this will not be an issue. This is an issue that's reserved for the worst case scenario. If you've received numerous arrest notifications and received numerous fines and still do nothing to remedy the situation...there's a strong case against you for the government to take the property. And quite honestly- all the other decent landlords around you would likely applaud that decision.

So there you go- in a very quick nutshell- it's not as daunting of a process as it seems when you receive the nauseating letter from the police. Work through the process and make sure you're taking care of the problem. The local government has a stake in having responsible landlords- they want to work with you. We can all work together to make the neighborhoods safer and more secure for our tenants.

Mike Hogan

Associate Broker

RE/MAX Commonwealth





Comment balloon 25 commentsMike Hogan • October 01 2008 09:08PM


We own rental property in another state and while we have not had this problem, your post made me wonder what the process is in that state.  I'll definitely research it in the event we ever need to know!  Thanks for the education.

Posted by Susan Haughton, Susan & Mindy Team...Honesty. Integrity. Results. (Long and Foster REALTORS (703) 470-4545) almost 11 years ago

Thank you for a very good blog.  You should add that evictions are handled differently state to state.  I know that here in Illinois it is a painfully long process.  I have heard that we are the hardest state to get an eviction in.  I also think that in this state at least the type of drug can make a difference.  Obviously meth labs are a totally different ballgame. 

Posted by Tammy Anderson, Owens, Broker/Owner ("The Gateway Home Team" of RE/MAX Alliance) almost 11 years ago

Tammy thats a great point. I tried to point out that the process can be very different from state to state. I'd hate to see what they would do to me for having a Meth Lab in one of my properties.

The point in this post for everyone- if this does happen to you- get on top of the situation and deal with it appropriately. Thats something that doesnt change state-to-state. If you deal with the problem and work with the police- it's much easier and likely much less costly

Posted by Mike Hogan, MBA (The Hogan Group at Keller Williams Realty) almost 11 years ago

You are lucky you have an eviction process friendly to landlords, try evicting that same drug dealer in Los Angeles and you would fight at least 3 non profits claiming you were evicting for profit and it would take at least 3 months before you saw the inside of a court room.

Posted by James Engel, KW Beverly Hills (Keller Williams Realty Beverly Hills) almost 11 years ago

As a company going more into property management, I find this very important. I am not surprised you may get scared receiving a letter from the police.

Posted by Jon Zolsky, Daytona Beach, FL, Buy Daytona condos for heavenly good prices (Daytona Condo Realty, 386-405-4408) almost 11 years ago

Holy crap- Im certainly not "up" on all the various localities- and youre right- I do feel lucky to live in a somewhat landlord friendly area.

Posted by Mike Hogan, MBA (The Hogan Group at Keller Williams Realty) almost 11 years ago

Mike, Sorry to hear about your experience. I'm glad we live in Virginia, as James said we have a landlord friendly eviction process. We've had similar situations with rentals: My husband was refinishing the floors, opened the closet door to find pot growing inside. He called the police, gave them the key so they wouldn't break the door down. Had another property where neighbors reported drugs and prostitution going on. We evicted. Unfortunate that these are par for the course.

Posted by Debbie Malone, From Lynchburg To The Lake (434) 546-0369 (Londeree's Real Estate & Property Management) almost 11 years ago

Great post Mike - Stuff like this is what makes AR so good - you almost never talk to anybody about something like this - but since it was posted and since I have a rental it is great info. Thanks.

Posted by Stephen Kappre, Helping You Home (KW Hometown) almost 11 years ago

Thanks for this great post very informative. Its good to share your experiences so other people dont get into trouble..great thought of sharing this..

Posted by Laddi Dhillon (Re/Max Gold Realty Inc.) almost 11 years ago

IF your properties were in Wisconsin...they could be seized...yet another good reason for not being a landlady for me....good luck !

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) almost 11 years ago

I agree with you and as I said before I think this is a great blog.  Thanks

Posted by Tammy Anderson, Owens, Broker/Owner ("The Gateway Home Team" of RE/MAX Alliance) almost 11 years ago

Eesh wow that's quite a story; thanks for sharing how you dealth with it. Excellent post:)

Posted by DJ Swanepoel (Real Estate Wiki) almost 11 years ago

Maryland has a law on this very subject. I can't come up with the name right now, (public nuisance or something like that) but it allows not only a landlord to evict a renter who has used a property for drug dealing, but also a community association, or the County Attorney at the request of a neighborhood citizen can file for civil eviction, even if the  landlord is uncooperative. 

I had some personal experience with this regarding a neighboring property years ago.  I went to court prepared to testify but the renters decided to not fight the eviction.

I think Maryland's law even has some penalties for landlords who have knowledge of the drug dealing on their property but fail to act, even forfeiture in some cases. 

Posted by Doug Wolfe (Long and Foster Real Estate, Inc. Phoenix, MD) almost 11 years ago

That is a lot of valuable information and you broke it down to a process that make it not so scary! I just found this group and it is full of good stuff. Like someone else mentioned, you just don't have chats like this with anyone else, but it will probably save some others a lot of trouble. And the comments are also quite valuable. Thanks for sharing your experience. Have a wonder New Year in 2009.

Posted by Maggie Baumbach (Search Homes for Sale in Maryland at HelpShop.com) over 10 years ago

Maggie- Thanks and you have a wonderful and prosperous New Year as well.

Posted by Mike Hogan, MBA (The Hogan Group at Keller Williams Realty) over 10 years ago

In the areas we service, the towns are requiring that owners and managers of ALL rental property attend "Crime Fee Housing" seminars and do criminal background checks.  We have seen a decrease in the areas where this is implemented. 

Posted by Diane Rice, SFR, SRES, CNC ( Rice Prprty Mgmnt & Rlty, LLC, South Holland, IL) over 10 years ago

A property that was placed in possesion of my ex-wife but not yet deeded to her was raided twice in 2009 ( Oct and Nov) and both times thge charges were dropped by the courts or police dept. In NC it is quite difficult to get a Drug Dealer eviction completed even with a police officer testifying on your behalf when the tenant has paid their rent on time.  Well I had some illnesses and was bed ridden for sevaral days each time I underwent medical testing. One day I had a police officer beating my door very aggressively and I was awakened from a sound sleep but had a dangerous dye in my veins and was tyold that I could get up only 5 times per day for 2 days. The officer called my phone and threatened to tear my door down and arrest me if I didn't come to the door. When I explained my health situation , he wanted me to waste 1 of my out of bed 5 minutes to let him in so he could come to my bedroom for a conversation. I had no idea of any of my ex-wife's tenant's actions and had  never been contacted on the matter by the police department. I nicely refused to get up confine my dogs and let this assumed officer into my house. I explained to him that the property was in full control of my ex-wife and gave him her home address and phone number as well as her cell phone number and work address without getting up. He left making threats to come back to arrest me and my ex-wife. I had no legal rights to perform an eveiction process on a property in her control and possesion. I understand that he did correspond with her and that she began working with a nuisance abatement officer in his precinct. Upon hearing this, from my ex, I never heard back from the officer.  Well aparently these tenants couldn't or weren't evicted due to no grounds because the charges kept getting dropped. On April 3rd, I think they had another raid on the property and on April 13, 2010 i ahd 3 officers come to my door while I was trying to finish my taxes. As soon as I stepped out of my door, they put handcuffs on me and even though they did not have it in their possesion said that there was a felony warrant for my  arrest for maintaining a dwelling for distribution of drugs.  I begged for them to call my ex and the abatement officer in their precinct to prevent this intentionally vicious act. They said they didn't have anything to do with the warrant and wasn't even sure of it's contents, just that they were told to pick me up. Well 10 and a half hours of processing and confinement with drug dealers, drunks, and gang members and no food or medicine the bail bonds man my brother hired and followed to the jail house right behind the car I was in, i got out of jail at a price of $1030.  Now I have to spend close to $4,000. for an attorney to prevent a possible felony conviction. Yes I should be able to simply explain the circumstances and show the papers concerning the property managment's control and possesion but I cannot afford taking a chance especially seeing how I was treated and unable to get anyone to listen to the circumstances.  My ex has contacted the abatement officer trying to urge her to help me out since she knew that efforts had been made to comply with the nuicense.  The officer that signed the warrant will not return my ex-wife's calls nor mine and the abatement officer said she has nothing to do with him nor his actions even though they are in the same precinct and began this process with him. She apparently has not made any effort to keep him informed of the multiple correspondence and documentation of meetings my ex provided to her in previous eviction attempts. Oh I have the neighborhood police parking in front of my house and doing radar on my neighborhood street, and following me sometimes from property to property. ( ihave 11 rentals on the same street as the property in this matter and code enforcement officers have put 10 of them under constant code enforcement for tenants leaving their trash can out in the front yard, or parking in the grass, or not cutting their grass often enough, etc. and I also live 1 street over)  I am a nervous wreck and have decided to give up the rental business I have workd over 30 years amassing and attempting to sell my houses for extremely low values due to the economy and urgency I have to leave Charlotte.  Are we in a military state  now? 

Posted by Don Poole over 9 years ago

I have a major drug house across the street from me. Drug task force has been involed for 3 yrs to no avail. The landlord refuses to evict even with the raids, arrests and all other nuisances that have occured. Dectectives have handed the evidence to him on a 'silver plate" but he refuses to co-operate and get them out. I believe he might even be a customer of theirs!  ANY Advice would be grealy appreciated. This is a great neighborhood except for the drug house. I live in Wenatchee Washington. I want to see an attorney. My husband thinks it is a waste of time and $ because we have no legal rights. WHO IS RIGHT?  HELP!~ 

Posted by linda goodrich over 7 years ago

Linda- As a landlord myself and a REALTOR- not an attorney- I say talk to you your local police. In my experience the police are more than willing to work with concerned neighbors. But you may need to be the proverbial "squeaky wheel" in order to make something happen. Also try talking to your local government leaders about the problem. I dont think talking to an attorney will do you much good although some of the attornies on here may be able to answer that better. Best of luck- I know what its like to have that "one house" on the street.

Posted by Mike Hogan, MBA (The Hogan Group at Keller Williams Realty) over 7 years ago

Thank you very much Mike for this blog. I have rental property in Florida. I went to the rental house to deliver a 3 day notice of eviction for nonpayment of rent, when I was met by drug task enforcement officers who had just arrested my tenants and found a meth lab inside. Needless to say I am very upset about this and am not sure how to proceed. I have been unable so far to get the lead investigator to return my phone calls and I am not sure what to do next. Someone told me that in Florida if your rental property is in a drug bust, that you don't have to go thru the eviction process. That I have the right to sieze it back and everything the renters left behind because they are both in jail now. Do you know anything about this? Thank you so much for your help.

Posted by Tammy Ferrell almost 7 years ago

Excellent old post that is still relevant, even if the speifics are a bit different nowadays. Thanks Mike. Dealing with a drug arrest is definitely something that you don't think about before it happens. I hope more landlords see this even though it was written in 2008.

Posted by Jake Walnut, Rocket Lease (Rocket Lease) over 6 years ago

Even a few years after the post, useful and helpful info.  Thanks for sharing.

Posted by Drick Ward, "RealtorDrick" - Experienced Representation (NEPTUNE REALTY) over 6 years ago

i have the exact oposite situation i am renting and found out that swat did a drug bust in my house. i however was not informed of this by my land lord. we have people come and ask us for the previous tenets all the time and my wife feels unsafe. would this be a bretch of contract for not informing me of the previous situation in the house?


Posted by Jacob over 6 years ago

My brother just found out he was renting to some dealers/growers. They changed his basement into a grow room. There is water damage and mold throughout the house. And something about the acid in the THC throughout the house as well. After he evicts what are his steps. Can he sue or will his rental insurance cover anything? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Posted by super stressed sister over 4 years ago

It should be easy but it isn't:

Buy rental properties. Survive tenants for twenty years. Retire with great cash flow and vast equity.

Posted by Dave Halpern, Louisville Short Sale Expert (Keller Williams Realty Louisville East (502) 664-7827) almost 2 years ago