An Aspen, Colorado landlord is suing her former tenant — and long-time friend — after the woman destroyed the rental property while growing marijuana.
The landlord had agreed to the tenant using the home as an indoor marijuana growing operation because the activity was licensed, according to a local online news report.
The women have been friends for years.
According to the report, the tenant left owing unpaid rent. In addition, she caused significant damage including missing carpeting, hoards of trash and remnants of what appeared to be medical marijuana plants, holes in the ceiling, and damaged window screens.
The tenant is also accused of stealing some of her landlord’s personal items from the property, according to the report.
Of note in this case is the additional provision in the lease giving consent for the operation of the indoor marijuana grow operation. According to the report, the lease provided:
“If the cultivation of marijuana becomes illegal in Colorado, Pitkin County, or if tenant loses its license…, or if the federal government changes its current policy that it will not prosecute a medical marijuana business if it is in compliance with state laws, then either party may terminate this lease immediately,” and “Medical marijuana will be cultivated on this premise …”
In order for a lease agreement to be enforceable, the transaction must involve a legal purpose. In a case like this, the landlord must perform due diligence to verify that the activity is, in fact, legal. If it were ever determined that a landlord-sanctioned grow operation did violate the law, it is possible the landlord would not be entitled to any of the legal remedies provided in the lease — like unpaid rent. It also is conceivable that the property in which the illegal activity occurred could be subject to forfeiture laws.
The type of damage profiled in this case often occurs over time. That’s why routine property inspections can help to minimize property damage by revealing a bad tenant. It’s always a good idea to demand a walk-thru if the tenant provides notice that they are leaving.
This case also underscores why it is important for the next landlord to speak with the previous landlord before accepting a rental applicant and to run tenant screening reports to expose problem tenants.
This post is provided by Tenant Verification Service, Inc., helping landlords reduce the risks of renting with fraud prevention tools that include Tenant Screening, Tenant Background Checks, (U.S. and Canada), as well as Criminal Background Checks, and Eviction Reports (U.S. only).
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Disclaimer: The information provided in this post in not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.