Are Landlords Liable for Tenants Who Deal Drugs?
All landlords are expected to meet certain standards of safety and security within their housing. For example, they must take reasonable steps to ensure that:
- All tenants are protected from thieves, potential assailants or any other criminals
- Tenants are protected from any criminal acts that other tenants may commit
- Tenants are warned about possibly dangerous situations that they know about but cannot wipe out, and
- The surrounding neighborhood is protected from any illegal activities being performed by tenants.
Therefore, if landlords fail to meet any of these minimal standards of safety when it comes to illegal activity, they could be considered liable for their tenants’ actions. Even if there is no physical injury to any neighbor or tenant, landlords could possibly be sued by tenants or community members if they allow a “nuisance” to persist on their property without taking any reasonable steps to put an end to it. While this typically involves noise, sanitation or general maintenance issues, this can be extended to include illegal activity like drug dealing or use.
Additionally, tenants are likely to get together in lawsuits like these to create a stronger case against their landlord if there are tenants within the building creating a disturbance or who are known to be committing crimes.
As a landlord, it is recommended that you do everything possible to ensure the safety of your residents, and to reach out to law enforcement officials as soon as you are aware of potential illegal activity on your property. Should you find yourself the subject of criminal charges, work with Berks County criminal defense attorney David R. Eshelman.