Breaking Brown

June 4, 2013

City to Hold Landlords Accountable For Renting to Drug Dealers

City to Hold Landlords Accountable For Renting to Drug Dealers

In the city of Hagerstown, Maryland, police are trying to rid the community of drug dealers by holding landlords accountable.

Washington County Assistant State’s Attorney Brett Wilson says that the city regularly serves drug search warrants “to make it uncomfortable for the dealers.”Drug-Dealer

“With the nuisance abatement (ordinance), you take it one step further and you make it uncomfortable for the land owners who don’t oversee their building … and, with a wink and a nod, allow them to become drug-infested ratholes,” he said.

Although it is often difficult to prove that landlords knew of a tenant’s activities, courts can force landlords to install security cameras if it is proven.

Police Chief Mark Holtzman says most landlords who receive notices are helpful and often evict drug dealing tenants.

“We have had a good response from almost every landlord that we’ve sent a letter to (notifying them) that illegal drug activity is taking place,” he said.

Holtzman also says landlords can avoid legal trouble by running background checks before renting to tenants.

“You can’t be an absentee landlord and expect the property to manage itself,” Holtzman said.

Councilwoman Penny Nigh has long supported holding landlords accountable for drug dealing tenants and supports the effort by police.

“That’s what needs to be done,” she said. “I have no problem with the police going after landlords.”


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