The Times They are a Changin’

Lease agreement document with money on a wood backgroundBob Dylan wrote these lyrics 53 years ago, but I think they are just as relevant today as they were then. If there is one constant in life it is the fact that there will be change. For example, here in Colorado we have legalized marijuana, which in itself violates Federal law. This puts law enforcement and, sometimes, business and property owners in an awkward position.               Not generally known is that the legalization of marijuana has led to an explosion of questionably legal grow operations. A license to actually grow marijuana commercially is very expensive, so some growers are skirting the law in an effort to avoid the high start-up costs. This has led to clandestine grow operations popping up in some strange places.  In one instance a friend leased a portion of his building for what he thought was going to be residential use. He discovered it was actually a front for a grow operation and that the actual grower was not the person on the lease.

Likewise, a realtor friend I have tells me this is an increasing problem in rural areas as well wherein a home will be leased and then used for drug operations. In both instances my friends found out that the growers had caused significant damage to the properties. The problem arises when a landlord tries to evict one of these operators.

Landlord/tenant law is designed to protect both landlords and tenants, so the process is a bit cumbersome, and immediate possession is very difficult to obtain. Consequently, good leases are becoming more and more important, and the do-it-yourself or the old stand-by ones property owners have used in the past are no longer adequate.

And as I noted above, law enforcement is in a difficult position, so do not count on their intervention to remedy a situation like one of those outlined. My friend who had leased his property did indeed approach the police only to be told that it was a civil matter. This then forced him to come to me and we had to evict the tenant. Fortunately, there were some other circumstances involved which enabled us to recoup some of the damage caused to the building, but we did not recover enough to satisfy all my friend’s costs.

Accordingly, I cannot emphasize enough that if you are leasing property that you review what your lease agreement says. Likewise, I think it is critical that landlords take the time to do background checks to determine the character of a potential tenant. While landlords cannot discriminate on the basis of creed, sex or race they can discriminate as to who they will rent to so long as they are not doing so on based upon one of the wrongful reasons.

Also, it is important to understand the law regarding such situations. Do not automatically assume you can employ a self-help remedy to make yourself whole or to get rid of a problem tenant. If there is any question about the legality of a course of action consult with an attorney.

The times are changing, but with a bit of foresight it is possible to mitigate harm. If you have a question about your business or lease contact us. We are happy to help.

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