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Pot smoking renter
Old 02-05-2010, 07:43 PM   #1
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Pot smoking renter

Ok, I have situation which I'd like some advice on. What do about my stoner renter/roomate.

I ended up with a fairly large house (and being in Hawaii) expensive house. After my Ex-girlfriend and I split up four years ago. I decided to get a roommate rather than downsize (I love the location). The roommate would provide money, cat care, and companionship plus the inevitable can you help move/hang this etc in that order. My first roommate was a terrific a smart easy going nurse. After a couple of years she left.

I like my location but at the top of hill it isn't ideal for many working people,. The rental space is my downstairs while fairly large 400+' and includes private bath, separate entrance, and cooking facilities, has number of disadvantages including a shared laundry, inconvenient closet space. Several years ago I had a choice between 1/2 dozen acceptable renters, last year despite dropping the rent a $100+ it took me almost 4 months to find a tenant, I think this is a largely a function of the bad economy.

My tenant is nice enough guy (late 30s) but his employment status was flaky when I met and he has since lost his job. He has some part time worker but none since Xmas. Other than one month he has paid the rent on time (and in cash). When he moved in mentioned he occasionally smoked dope, but no cigarettes. He offered to smoke outside but I decide rather than risk a scene with one of my neighbors, it would be ok for him to smoke in his room. Ever since he lost his job, he has been smoking more pot, as well hanging around the house with his fellow band members. They are not particularly loud nor disturbing. I turned away self-employed people because I frankly didn't want to folks hang around the house all the time. So I am not thrilled that I don't have the house to myself more.

I knew plenty of stoners when I was in college (as well as smoked my fair share of pot) and my roommate and his friend remind me a lot of them.

My sister tells me I should get rid of the guy (if he stops paying the rent I will have no problems doing so.) because she thinks (having been a serious druggie many years ago herself) that A. he is probably doing more than smoking dope, B. Maybe dealing and C. His friends may decide to rip me off.

Now frankly, I am not that concerned about being ripped off. I don't have that much valuable stuff lying around. On the other hand the legal consequence of being associated with something beyond a simple misdemeanor marijuana are troubling. And the potential for drug related violence or crime are also greatly concerning.

I am especially interested in those of you with legal and law enforcement backgrounds. What type of legal risks do I likely face? Any suggestions on how to approach the problem.

Given the the troubles I had finding a tenant, I am not anxious to get rid of a f paying one. I figure it would take $300-350K in additional assets to make up for the $800 plus depreciation I lose per month for rent.
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Old 02-05-2010, 07:52 PM   #2
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I agree with your sister. The majority of the pot smokers in my life have done more than smoke pot. Its illegal. (blah blah on those who think it should be legal. For now it is not. Unless he lives in a state that allows medical mj use..etc etc etc)

Boot him when you can. Find someone else.


Oh and I'm not a law enforcement type...lawyer or a fine up standing citizen. Im just a Joe.

So I could get into the story of a blood relative. Who we just smoked pot. Went to work etc etc. Next thing I know my roomie cant come up with the rent and his sniffling all around. AhhA! Yeah Ill save the story.
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Old 02-05-2010, 08:04 PM   #3
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Old 02-05-2010, 08:48 PM   #4
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I agree with your sister. I would worry about the cops raiding my house and being caught in the net, personally.
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Old 02-05-2010, 09:20 PM   #5
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Not a lawyer or a cop just a former landlord. Had ALL kinds of nefarious BS going on but if it was low key enough to not alert the neighbors or the cops it was a pass. Calls from the neighbors is a fail. I would talk to him and explain your discomfort. Say that if he could keep it at a level where you didn't notice it would be a pass or maybe he should move on. I hated losing tenants but sometimes you do need to move on.
Definitely no interest in being on the news or getting ripped off by friends.
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Old 02-05-2010, 09:32 PM   #6
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What's the address? I'll stop in and talk to him. Probably have him straightened out in a few minutes, or maybe years. That darned time dilation effect.
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Old 02-05-2010, 10:39 PM   #7
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The concerns I have with the pot in regards to your liability is him leaving some in your living quarters and/or growing some on your property and it being discovered by law enforcement. I suggest running a criminal background check on him if you have not done so.

These are just concerns I have...I'm not a professional, just a volunteer cop with a little experience.
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Old 02-05-2010, 11:38 PM   #8
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Is possession of small amounts legal in Hawaii? That would be my concern, which is that the cops show up for some legitimate reason, notice the pot, the smell or paraphernalia, and decide to arrest everyone with access to the house for possession.
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Old 02-05-2010, 11:46 PM   #9
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Does he pay his rent in cash or does he use some other negotiable medium of exchange? Just kidding.

Without involving the police, the best recourse would be to not renew the lease. If he's already past the end of the lease and going month-to-month then you could give him his notice. Tell him you're taking the apartment off the market to move in your [aging family] [visiting relative] [new significant other]. Or you're getting ready to renovate. Or sell.

I seriously doubt you could get the police to pay a call even if you shot video for the local news station. If you tried to evict him for just about anything, let alone the pot, then there'd be the inevitable property damage or even worse.

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Old 02-05-2010, 11:58 PM   #10
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I agree with firedreamer, notmuchlonger and bbbamI—out with him. I think your concerns are justified. Consult your lawyer (or KGO's) to be sure, but IMO, this guy could get you arrested.

And what on earth you were thinking of, giving this guy a verbal OK to engage in illegal activities on your property? What are you going to do if, when you tell him to move out, he threatens to tell the cops that you, his landlord, said it was OK for him to smoke dope in his room? ISTM that wth those few words, you have left yourself wide open to an ugly little thing called blackmail.
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Old 02-06-2010, 01:45 AM   #11
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Well, a little light dope dealing would be a reasonable suspicion based on the facts that he doesn't work but has no problem handing over cash money for the rent. I didn't see a specific amount for the monthly rent, but unless it is a pittance even casual labor would be a stretch to explain that. If he's not eating rice and beans, and doesn't seem to be otherwise living hand to mouth, the all cash and no real job thing starts to smell bad.

There are explanations other than drug dealing, but most of them are illegal.

If he's dealing there, or doing the deals somewhere else, the risk to you is that somebody could be tempted to drop by and relieve him of his stash that he might be keeping there. That's one of those situations where you hope the guys with guns who kick in strangers' doors are cops and not bad guys. But regardless of who shows up, you are at risk of being drug into it.

If the bad guys show up they might drag you into it just to make sure you're not dialing 911. If the good guys show up they may have vague information about who you are and the relationship between you and your tenant, or which part of the house is yours and which part is rented to him. In that kind of situation the 4th Amendment allows for what is called a "protective sweep", which means they can search the entire house, outbuildings, etc. to make sure that there is nobody present who might pose a safety risk. They wouldn't be justified in digging through your drawers and such, but going through the rooms, holding you temporarily, etc. would all be justified. Since it would be a justified search, anything illegal that they saw in plain view in your part of the house could be admissible against you in court.

That's major league drama in your life.

There is all sorts of minor league drama that is possible if the dude is dealing or doing some other illicit activity.

If it were me, I'd find a reason to get him out.
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Old 02-06-2010, 07:39 AM   #12
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I'd tell him that his once-sporadic pot use has become too frequent, is stinking up your house and is become more of a liability than the $300/month he is paying in rent. Time to go, stoner! He has heard it before.
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Old 02-06-2010, 08:09 AM   #13
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Isn't it a crime to know about a crime and not report it?
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Old 02-06-2010, 08:28 AM   #14
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^^ Not generally. The general rule is there is no tattle-tale rule.

There are some nuanced exceptions to the general rule, however. It is a crime to know about a crime then actively help someone avoid arrest for the crime. It is a crime to know about a crime then lie to law enforcement to throw off an investigation.

There are also special instance tattle-tale rules. It is a crime for certain populations to fail to report certain crimes, example, teachers must report suspected child abuse, doctors must report patients with gunshot wounds, etc. But when Joe Schmoe walking down the street sees a bank robbery in progress, he does not commit a new crime by not calling 911.

Usual disclaimer about how none of the above is legal advice, even if it is it is all wrong, and even if right someone would be a fool to rely on it.
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Old 02-06-2010, 09:01 AM   #15
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Man! Again, I need to have my eyes checked.

At first glance of the thread title, instead of "Pot Smoking Renter", I thought I read "Pot Smoking Center"!

Leonidas has a good point about how this renter finances his living expenses plus his smoking habit.
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Old 02-06-2010, 09:49 AM   #16
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Agree with Leonidas. The whole situation is one that puts you in a position to get dragged into a bunch of stuff that can enormously complicate your life. I'd find a reason to get rid of him.
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Old 02-06-2010, 10:31 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leonidas View Post
If it were me, I'd find a reason to get him out.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Walt34 View Post
I'd find a reason to get rid of him.
No disputing those conclusions, but does anyone know of any advanced landlording tricks to make that happen?

Eviction, while rarely resulting in fatal injuries to the landlord, can be at least as painful (and certainly as damaging) as a home invasion.

I know that tenants are probably violating a lease when they engage in illegal activity. But AFAIK the only mechanisms to cancel the lease would be eviction or buying out the tenant. And a buyout might be perceived to be almost as painful as the eviction.
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Old 02-06-2010, 10:43 AM   #18
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If his lease has run out, I'd both raise his rent sharply and make a pest of myself. That might get him to leave.

Next time, I wouldn't tell a tenant he can smoke pot as long as he stays inside and then get upset that he is smoking pot a lot and having friends over.

CAVEAT: I am not, never have been, and never will be, a landlord.
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Old 02-06-2010, 10:44 AM   #19
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Don't you have a lease agreement? What does it say? If not, why not?
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Old 02-06-2010, 10:53 AM   #20
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If his lease has run out, I'd both raise his rent sharply and make a pest of myself. That might get him to leave....
Some thirty years later, now I get it. Maybe that's what my landlady was doing when she raised the rent and starting knocking on my door, drunk, just wanting to talk. j/k, poor thing died at 61 shortly after that. I much prefer absentee landlords and will never even consider living in someone's separate entry rental property under the same roof.
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