Can I be held accountable for a tenant growing marijuana in my rental property?

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Can I be held accountable for a tenant growing marijuana in my rental property?

I have not technically seen the marijuana nor have any direct evidence.

Asked on June 15, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Colorado

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Here is info I have found regarding the laws in Colorado:

"Drug-dealing tenants can cause landlords all kinds of practical and legal problems:

  • Anyone who is injured or annoyed by drug dealers -- be it other tenants or people in the neighborhood -- may sue the landlord on the grounds that the property is a public nuisance that seriously threatens public safety or morals.
  • Local, state, or federal authorities may levy stiff fines against the landlord for allowing illegal activity to continue.
  • Law enforcement authorities may seek criminal penalties against the landlord for knowingly allowing drug dealing on the rental property.
  • In extreme cases, the presence of drug dealers may result in the government confiscating the rental property.
  • A drug dealing environment can make it difficult to find and keep good tenants, and the value of the rental property will plummet.

There are several practical steps landlords can take to avoid trouble caused by criminal tenants and to limit their liability in any lawsuits that are filed:

  • Screen tenants carefully and choose tenants who are likely to be law-abiding and peaceful citizens. Weed out violent or dangerous individuals to the extent allowable under privacy and anti-discrimination laws that may limit questions about a tenant's past criminal activity, drug use, or mental illness.
  • Don't accept cash rental payments.
  • Do not tolerate tenants' disruptive behavior. Include an explicit provision in the lease or rental agreement prohibiting drug dealing and other illegal activity and promptly evict tenants who violate the clause.
  • Be aware of suspicious activity, such as heavy traffic in and out of the rental premises.
  • Respond to tenant and neighbor complaints about drug dealing on the rental property. Get advice from police immediately upon learning of a problem.
  • Consult with security experts to do everything reasonable to discover and prevent illegal activity on the rental property."

Good luck!


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