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.