Feb 27

From yesterday’s Journal Sentinel on a major heroin and cocaine arrest:

A separate complaint charges six Milwaukee residents with a variety of offenses related to the operation, which was based out of a rented house at 1800 S. Layton Blvd. A woman who lived there told investigators the main supplier paid the rent, car costs and other bills for her in exchange for using the location as a stash house for drugs and money.


”Fronting” is when, one person employees another person with a stellar rental history to apply for and rent a unit that the applicant has no intention of living at. Most often it is used by bad guys to acquire a place to do bad things, like sell dope.  We’ve also seen parents and friends front for people who otherwise could not get into our rentals due to eviction or criminal histories.

Screening becomes pretty much useless, unless fronting can be stopped. Law enforcement should look at these cases as felony fraud when used to put someone in a unit that the landlord would not otherwise rent to.  When used to facilitate a criminal act the fronter should be charged with either aiding and abetting the crime or the crime itself – If you drive the get away car while your buddy robs a liquor store and he kills someone, you will be charged with murder.  This should be the same.

In 1996 the Association had met with then D A McCann.  He promised to pursue fronting  cases if documented and presented to him.  Some cases were sent his way, but nothing ever happened.

When John Chisholm first became District Attorney he met a couple of times with the Southside Landlord Compact, a group comprised of small neighborhood landlords as well as many members of the AASEW.   We told him a large problem we were having was “fronting.”  

We had a major drug raid at one of our properties a few of years ago.  We went back over the app to see what we had missed. Everything looked correct. We rechecked the tenant for criminal charges – there were none.  We had done an in home pre rental visit. Notes had shown a woman, two kids in a well kept unit. 

I sent one of my manager to the four family she was living at when she applied to her to ask the neighbors if there was any indication of bad activity.  Low and behold the person we rented to was still living at the house where she lived when we accepted her application.  My manager asked her and she admitted that she was paid $500 a month to rent the house where the drug crime occurred and drop off the rent each month. We gave all of this information to the Police and DA.  She was never arrested. 

At least in the case reported yesterday the fronter was arrest.  Let’s hope this is part of a growing trend.

Feb 02

Over on the ApartmentAssoc Yahoo Group an owner asks the following about guests:

After 13 years of landlording, I have a new challenge: tenants who have “guests” stay 30-45 days at a time, and one guest who stays 5 days each month. I need to establish a Guest Policy.  I am surprised to learn that the California Realtors Rental Agreement does not have a guest policy.  So I am trying to determine what is reasonable.  An attorney told me that the courts typically recognize 14 days per year, per guest, as reasonable. The tenants don’t want any restrictions RE: guests, yet they asked me if I would replace the carpets. They don’t seem to understand that the additional wear and tear, water, trash, septic system use, and the liability of additional people is why Landlords put restrictions on guests.  I would appreciate any helpful feedback from other landlords.  

More important than the things listed by you, which of course are also important, is the fact that you screened your tenants to assure as much as possible a level of behavior and respect for both the property and other people.  

The guest could be just as well behaved as the people you rented to, or they could be ax murdering, drug dealing, sexual offenders who need a place to stay because they burned their last apartment down to spite their last landlord because he kicked them out for not paying six months rent.  You just do not know without having the ability to screen them. If they are a true guest staying for a week or less, then it probably will not be a problem.  But if they are there for months – then it is a problem.

Also some jurisdictions treat the guests as tenants, which means that if the tenant leaves because the guest is out of control the landlord must evict this person they never rented to and never had any information on. 

Additionally if it is a nicer building in a tourist area you have to decide what your policy is on things like AirBNB.  I think most municipalities are starting to have problems with these occupancies, viewing them as an unlicensed and therefor untaxed hotel. 

Here is an article that combines both fears – guest having tenant rights and AirBNB.

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