What is a landlord’s liability regarding crimes committed on the premises by a tenant?

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What is a landlord’s liability regarding crimes committed on the premises by a tenant?

I have a friend George who owns a home and rents his basement to a tenant named Mike.George has a slight suspicion that Mike may be growing marijuana in the basement but according to their contract,George isn’t permitted to enter Mike’s living space without his permission, which Mike never allows saying he likes his privacy and is also very anti-social most of the time, the reason George thought he didn’t want anyone coming down there.In what instances is George legally required to report suspicion of something like this, since minor signs such as using marijuana for personal use or having a lot of money may not be enough? What if Mike were doing this and caught by the police but lied?

Asked on June 18, 2013 under Real Estate Law, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

A landlord is not  liable for the crimes of his tenants, unless the landlord facilitated, aided, etc. such crimes. That, of course, might not stop the police from assuming that your friend was involved in growing marijuana, or might not stop prosecutors from seeking charges against him on that same assumption. Therefore, while there is no actual legal obligation to report a crime (other than certain specific crimes, like child sexual abuse), if someone is committing a crime in space owned by you, the authorities may believe you were involved and take action against you. It may be in your friend's interests to share his suspicions with the police, though he would be well advised to speak with a criminal attorney before doing so. Either in addition to or  instead of the above, your friend may wish to evict this tenant, if there are any grounds for doing so; a landlord-tenant attorney can help him in that regard.


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