Recognizing and Handling a Drug House
It is very important for property managers, owners, maintenance personnel, or anyone else, to be able to recognize a rental used as a drug house. Unfortunately, they are now part of our society. In particular, “methamphetamine labs” or “clandestine drug labs” are extremely dangerous, and exposure is hazardous. Situations where tenants are raising marijuana in a house can cause extreme property damage. Drug houses are located in all types of neighborhoods – from low to high income.
Property owners and/or managers can be liable for ignoring the signs of a drug house and not taking action. Fines and legal fees can be extensive. However, it is also crucial to avoid discrimination or legal action by wrongfully accusing a tenant of drug activity. Nevertheless, if signs of drug dealing are evident, it is more perilous to avoid them.
Any combination of the following may be an indicator of a drug house:
- Constant pedestrian traffic, such as many people in and out at all different hours and staying short periods, are a definite warning sign.
- There is usually constant vehicle traffic, coming and going, parking out front, engines left running, or one or more persons waiting while another goes into the property.
- Any heavy traffic during late hours is another sign because some drug dealers feel people arriving or leaving after dark reduces attention.
- Extreme security precautions become obvious, such as surveillance equipment, extra motion lights, security cameras, large locks, bars on windows, and dangerous dogs such as a Pit Bull or Rottweiler.
- Heavy chemical or toxic odors are coming from the residence.
- There are signs of excessive running water around the residence or an extremely high water bill.
- The tenant exhibits suspicious activities, such as never coming outside, looking out windows when people leave, avoiding other neighbors, lack of upkeep of yard or house, and a lot of activity in the garage area even though the door never opens.
Perhaps you have not encountered this situation and it may not become part of a future scenario for your investment. However, if you do suspect or encounter drug activity, it is important to follow these steps.
- If you notice any activity or someone contacts you, such as a law enforcement agency or a neighbor, contact us immediately. We need to be aware of any danger. As professional managers, we will follow important legal and practical steps to protect your property.
- Ask law enforcement agencies to work with your property management company and notify us of your request. We will work with the police, a Narcotics division, or narcotics detectives – whatever is appropriate.
- Do NOT ignore the problem – it could be great risk to you, other people, and your property, in many ways.
- Do NOT attempt to handle the problem – this could be life threatening. Toxic chemicals can cause great and sometime permanent damage to the body’s’ system. Toxic chemicals connected with drugs are also highly volatile and can explode at any time.
- NEVER enter the property if you suspect a drug house or lab
- NEVER confront the tenant – you may end up with a lawsuit if a drug problem does not exist or you could put yourself in great danger.
- If a problem is occurring right at the moment, call the police or sheriff and make a report.
- Call 911 if you feel there is danger or if you suspect personal exposure to toxic chemicals.
- Bring the information to a public meeting; contact the neighbors or a neighborhood watch leader if possible.
Above all, be aware of activities surrounding the property. Be careful, document everything, do not attempt to solve this on your own, and seek professional assistance from your property management company and law enforcement.
Unfortunately, drugs are a serious issue today and as your management company, we believe preventative measures avoid most problems. However, it can happen and by working together, drug activity can be resolved.