There are a number of tell-tale signs of residual drug effects on your rental properties, which can cause both landlords and tenants problems.
You may have seen the wake left by a boat if you’ve ever been on one. No matter how fast a boat is going, it is impossible not to disturb the pristine glassiness of water.
Drugs used or manufactured on your property will always have an impact, large or small, on the property, and those impacts can reach as far as the ripples of a passing boat on the water.
A client recently called to explain that she had been experiencing some rather serious health problems since moving into a new house. A professional was hired after multiple doctor visits and mold testing to determine whether the property had been used for drugs. There were significant levels of methamphetamine residue in the kitchen, as well as in the common areas and bedrooms. This unfortunate tenant and his landlord were unknowingly affected by the effects of drugs on their rental properties.
In a situation like the one described above, applying the legal standard of “what you knew or should have known” is critical for landlords. These are a few practical applications you should consider when your properties are occupied, but especially after the tenants move out and you are performing post-occupancy inspections. A property that has been used or manufactured with drugs will always show signs of residual effects.
Drug residue can penetrate many parts of your property, but especially porous areas. Don’t forget the rugs/carpets, exhaust fans, HVAC vents and returns, and even the plumbing. Drug residue is notorious for hiding in P-traps in plumbing and causing havoc.
It is not uncommon for even the most meticulous drug manufacturers to overlook yellow residue around roof vents. For a more detailed inspection, bring binoculars so you don’t have to climb up on the roof.
Using foil over windows is one way paranoid users and manufacturers hide their illegal activities. Every window should be checked for any remaining foil.
Your property may smell like dirty socks, dirty diapers, or even ammonia, which can be a sign that drugs are being used and manufactured there.
Having a high number of guests visit the property on a regular basis and for a short period of time could mean your property is under threat. Your neighbors can serve as the eyes and ears you need to oversee the activities on your property if you are friendly with them.
It is rare, if ever, for drug users or manufacturers to leave a property in good condition after they have departed. Having a consistent and timely move-out inspection will almost always give you insights into how your property has been used (or misused).
It is your duty to treat tenants seriously if you find any of these things, or if they complain about any of these things. In this case, the standard is “what you knew or should have known” about drugs in your rental properties. Do not try to ignore or hide the damage caused by drugs from the next tenant, or the next owner, if you sell the property. It is your legal duty to remediate the property to a safe and habitable condition, regardless of the cost.
During tenancy, perform in-person inspections of the property, and perform a move-out inspection with the tenant before they leave the property to avoid the “wake” of a bad tenant. These tools will help you create a process that results in smoother sailing on your journey as a property owner, but there are no guarantees.