How to Recognize Drug Activity at Your Properties


You may have your suspicions. Or maybe you’ve heard rumors from other tenants. But how can you tell for sure if one of your renters has a drug problem… or worse, if your property is being used as a drug distribution point?

There are some general warning signs which typically are good indicators that your tenant is making, using, or selling drugs. Perhaps one or two of these alone might not be enough to make accusations, but a few of these combined might be cause for further investigation. Here are some of the most common user characteristics for each drug:


  • Highly talkative or paranoid behavior
  • Uncontrollable jaw clenching and/or lip chewing
  • Frequent bloody noses or constant sniffing


  • General uncleanliness
  • Open sores on skin
  • Rotting teeth
  • Unpleasant, pungent urine-like smell
  • An odor that’s a cross between rotten eggs and ammonia coming from the property
  • Box fans in the window to blow out toxic fumes after cooking meth


  • Unusually aggressive behavior
  • Visible needle or track marks, wounds or bruising commonly found on arms, legs, and in-between toes
  • Wearing long sleeves in hot weather to help hide needle marks

In general:

  • Multiple visitors in and out of the property after midnight during weeknights
  • Blacked out windows so that no one can see into the property
  • Guests bringing valuable items to the property (TVs, cameras, bicycles), but leaving empty-handed
  • People sitting and hanging out in cars, serving as a lookout for someone else inside the unit
  • Repeatedly failing to pay rent, damaging property, or not maintaining clean living conditions
  • Repeated break-ins on the property and in the surrounding area

Keep in mind that residents might meet some of the above characteristics because they work night shifts or are night owls who naturally keep a late schedule. But if you have a tenant who meets multiple points above, you may want to consider contacting a security expert or police officer to determine if any criminal activity is occurring. Landlords who knowingly allow drug activity to happen in their properties can be held liable for the criminal acts committed by their tenants.


Photo credit: dkalo / Foter / CC BY-SA
Photo credit: Difei Li / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND