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Dear Patty - Drugs!

Friday, November 2, 2012  
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Dear Patty,

I have discovered that one of my rental homes has turned into a drug house, and I need to know what to do!

--Lions and Tigers and Drugs, Oh My!

Dear Oh My,

Oh my, indeed! It is truly a shock when a property manager learns that a property has turned into a drug house (often following the drama of an arrest).

Because you will owe your homeowner an explanation for what has transpired, I recommend that you provide documentation of everything you know — step by step — and I further recommend that you very carefully document each call you make and each conversation you have from this point forward.

Place a sticker near the front door with your contact information, so anyone who arrives at the house (police, insurance company, utility company, etc.) can easily reach you. In addition, notify the HOA so that neighborhood residents can be made aware – if such is the HOA’s policy.

Call the sheriff's office and request a copy of the police report. Ask if one of the arresting deputies can meet you at the house and explain to you what process took place and what initially gave them an indication that this was a drug house. You need to have this information prior to making that necessary call to the owner. Add this information to your existing documentation regarding inspections, visits to the house, etc.

Set yourself up for a private conversation without interruptions with the homeowner. Have all your facts and information available, as the owner will be understandably upset and will ask many questions. Provide only answers that you know with absolute certainty to be true; if you don’t know an answer, tell the owner you will find out. Describe everything you have done regarding the situation. And advise the owner to call the insurance company immediately!

Make sure you secure the house (change locks and unplug the garage door opener and the refrigerator). Take photos of everything and if possible create a video that you can provide to the owner.

Notify all utility companies of the situation. Occupants often tamper with both electricity and water (including the pool), so be very careful regarding the reconnection of electrical and water service. Ask the utility companies for their recommendations, and follow them!

Have a property inspection performed to detect the presence of drug spores (which may necessitate a complete gutting of the home). Be prepared to work with the remediation company that the insurance company will send out. Make certain they replace or repair everything and don't take short cuts.

This is a tough situation for any property manager. Good luck!

--Patty

"Patty the Property Manager” appears courtesy of the ORRA Property Management Subcommittee. Readers are invited to submit property management related questions to Patty by sending an e-mail to education@orlrealtor.com.

The ORRA Property Management Subcommittee provides this property-management advice column as a service to ORRA members. The column is intended to provide a general understanding, not as a substitute for individual legal consultation. The column should not be relied upon in specific situations without consulting a real estate attorney.


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