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Landlord responsibilities when dealing with drug-using tenants

Landlords in California have certain responsibilities when it comes to how properties are kept up. But are landlords also responsible for activities of tenants that may be illegal or unsafe? This was the question at the center of a case involving an eighteen-year-old individual who died from a drug overdose while at a property owned by another individual. A complaint filed by the decedent's parents alleges that the property owner should have taken steps to keep the house in "reasonably safe" condition.

This premises liability case raises several legal questions. An argument can be made that a property owner would assume the role of police officer if they had to report all suspicious or potentially harmful activities going on within properties they are renting or leasing. There's also the question of whether or not the a landlord who knew of such activities would be obligated to report them or legally responsible in the event of someone staying at the property being harmed.

In the case referenced above, the court declined to impose a duty on property owners or landlords with regards to drug-using tenants. The reason stated for the verdict was that there wasn't any evidence that the property owner could have stopped someone from engaging in such activities. There was also no proof that the owner knew about what was going on within the home. However, a dissenting justice asserts that negligence can include both actions taken and actions not taken; such as having a reasonable suspicion of drug use on the premises and not doing anything about it.

Not all matters involving the care of condominiums, apartments, and other rental properties involve circumstances that are clearly defined under existing law. For this reason, property owners or landlords involved with situations where some type of negligence may have played a role in the outcome may wish to seek assistance from a premise liability attorney. Such lawyers are often able to sort through circumstances to determine how to proceed legally.

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