Knowing the law helps protect you from legal liability for the behavior of others. You have a right to refuse to rent to or allow people to live on your property, based on legitimate business criteria. People with poor credit, poor maintenance habits and poor public records are not likely to increase your property value or your income.
You can be held liable for the behavior of those who live on your property. If they create a public nuisance or criminal behavior, it is you who will be held responsible (if you are aware of the infraction and allowing it.) You are also held (legally) responsible for the behavior of your employees and property managers. You have a right (and a responsibility to protect your self by careful selection, knowledge of the law and awareness of the circumstances of your property. If you are a landlord, be aware of how your property is managed. If your manager is not selective enough, write better criteria into your contracts, with the manager and the tenant. (And or get better manager.)
You can be held liable for legal nuisance, (a pervasive, continuing or serious condition- like excessive garbage, drug dealing, excessive noise or open sexual conduct.). Pay attention to whom and what is on your property. Humboldt County has had a lot of destruction to homes that have been used for indoor marijuana gardens. For landlords, the cost of repairing the damage often far exceeds the amount of the rent collected. The excuse and attempted justification the tenants use is, "I have a medical card for the use of marijuana." They somehow think that card gives them the right to destroy other people's property. It does not. There is no such right.
If a Dr. told them to drink milk, it would not give them the right to raise dairy cows in your living room. Their prescriptions and the destruction of your house have nothing to do with each other. A house is to live in, not to raise cattle in or grow crops in, turn into a manufacturing plant, a warehouse or a sales shop. Even if marijuana were legal (it is not), the destruction of someone else's property(Your home) would still be illegal.
Home owners; protect yourselves by putting unquestionable statements in your lease agreements and rental contracts concerning indoor plants, removal of lawn and or reconstruction for gardening etc... Include a statement concerning animals too. You don't want to be confronted with tenants over reaction to being told to drink milk. Be sure your contract contains explicit written provision, stating that tenants who 'violate any law or ordinance, including laws prohibiting the use, possession or sale of illegal drugs, commit waste or nuisance or annoy, disturb, inconvenience or interfere with the quiet enjoyment, peace and quiet of any other tenant or nearby resident, will be terminated and evicted if necessary'. Then enforce it. Don't imagine others won't enforce it against you if a serious problem arises because you did not enforce it.
These laws apply to all property owners. You don't have to be a landlord. No one can legally create a nuisance in their neighborhood and assume justification because they own the property. There is no justification. Avoid the problem by not allowing it to happen. The consequences to the property owner are not worth the alleged friendship of someone who would put you in that position. Anyone who is that unconcerned about your welfare is not your friend. Actions speak louder that words, don't leave your self in a position where you can end up being responsible for someone else's behavior.
Basic information compiled here in has been taken from 'Every Landlord's Legal Guide' by Marcia Stewart and Attorneys Ralf Warner and Janet Portman, and also the 'Nuisance Abatement Guide', available at Eureka Police Dept. This information is part of an educational series sponsored by Toastmasters International on behalf of our community service organizations.