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Fighting drugs a legal matter on all sides


AUGUST 10, 2011

Fighting drugs a legal matter on all sides

The following article, written by Mike Ford, appeared Friday, August 5, 2011 in the Delphos Herald. LAWO Attorney Upendra Patel is quoted in the story.

To make a drug-related arrest, law enforcement must build a case with a certain amount of proof. When that is yet to be obtained, residents in the area of a suspected drug trafficker who rents an apartment may look to the landlord for help. Landlords can check with police when dealing with prospective tenants. This is the best way they can protect local neighborhoods from criminal behavior. After a leasing agreement is signed, both parties are bound by it and a landlord must show some evidence either the contract or the respective statute has been broken in order to evict.

Upendra Patel is an attorney with Legal Aid of Western Ohio who specializes in Ohio Landlord-Tenant Law. He said how easy or difficult it is for a landlord to evict depends on the leasing contract and the details of each situation.

AUGUST 10, 2011

Fighting drugs a legal matter on all sides

The following article, written by Mike Ford, appeared Friday, August 5, 2011 in the Delphos Herald. LAWO Attorney Upendra Patel is quoted in the story.

To make a drug-related arrest, law enforcement must build a case with a certain amount of proof. When that is yet to be obtained, residents in the area of a suspected drug trafficker who rents an apartment may look to the landlord for help. Landlords can check with police when dealing with prospective tenants. This is the best way they can protect local neighborhoods from criminal behavior. After a leasing agreement is signed, both parties are bound by it and a landlord must show some evidence either the contract or the respective statute has been broken in order to evict.

Upendra Patel is an attorney with Legal Aid of Western Ohio who specializes in Ohio Landlord-Tenant Law. He said how easy or difficult it is for a landlord to evict depends on the leasing contract and the details of each situation.

"The Ohio Revised Code lists tenant obligations and if the landlord wants to evict on the basis of one of those grounds, the landlord has to give 30 days notice that they will terminate the contract because the tenant has broken either the leasing agreement or the statute. After the 30 days, the landlord has to give three days notice of eviction. Then, they file the eviction action on the fourth day, if the tenant hasn't moved out," he said.

If the tenant remains in the dwelling, law enforcement can become involved to forcibly remove them. For drug use, eviction can be expedited.

"For drug use or drug trafficking, there is a specific provision in the law that allows the landlord to terminate the lease and get the tenant moved out pretty quickly but a police report or arrest would be needed. Prior convictions won't apply; it would have to be in the last week or month — fairly recent. If it's just people complaining about drugs, that's generally not sufficient because the landlord has to show some proof when he goes into court to show possession of the property should be returned to him. He doesn't have to go beyond a reasonable doubt but he does have to have some preponderance of evidence, such as a few police reports, to establish the tenant is engaged in drug use or drug trafficking."

If neighbors believe a renter is selling drugs from their apartment and an arrest hasn't been made, there may be another possible recourse because the statute stipulates tenants are not allowed to disturb their neighbors.

"Saying they're selling drugs isn't sufficient but if people are coming in and out during all hours of the night, being loud, slamming car doors, listening to music loud and hanging out on the porch or patio at midnight or 3 a.m. — that would be disturbing the neighbors. If it's a duplex and one tenant thinks the tenant in the other apartment is selling drugs and an arrest hasn't been made but people are coming in and out in the middle of the night and making a lot of noise, they need to file complaints with the police. After at least a few of these occurrences, the landlord can terminate tenancy for disturbing the neighbors. However, within landlord-tenant law, 'neighbors' are defined by those within an apartment structure. So, the property owner next door or across the street wouldn't be considered a neighbor," he said.