While many landlords forbid smoking within their properties, changing laws and technology make enforcing these rules more difficult. Our guest today is Celeste Robertson. Celeste is Portfolio Manager with Mynd Property Management in Las Vegas, Nevada, and she is here to help explain what investors and property managers can do to prevent vaping or smoking within their properties, and what can be done if you suspect a tenant is breaking these rules.
Steve Rozenberg: Hey, everyone. This is Steve Rozenberg with Mynd Property Management and I am joined here today with Celeste Robertson, who is the Portfolio Manager for Mynd in Las Vegas. Celeste, thanks for joining me today. I appreciate it.
Celeste Robertson: Thank you. Thanks for having me.
Steve Rozenberg: So what I want to talk about today is, this is something obviously that goes on and it’s something new, obviously, to the state of Nevada, and it’s something that, I think, as properties become vacant and be released is people smoking marijuana or vaping inside of the rental property.
Can You Prevent Vaping?
Steve Rozenberg: So, I guess, the first question is, can you prevent it? And can you enforce it? And how do you deal with it there? Because this is obviously semi-new now that, at least, it’s legal to do it, how do we deal with that on a management level? If I was an investor, how would I handle it?
Celeste Robertson: Well, we do have it in the leases that it is no smoking of any substance inside the property. Your second protection is your CC&R’s within the communities. They have also updated their rules and regulations for residents to not have any smoking. And if they do, say even if it’s a cigarette or vaping or marijuana of any sort and they go in the backyard, if it does get a complaint from a neighbor, it’s considered a nuisance, and then they’re issued a violation from the community. So it’s pretty much double protected.
CC&R’s and Enforcing the Rules
Steve Rozenberg: Is that something that would actually be a lease violation if it comes from the CC&R? Can you, just for people that don’t know, explain what CC&R is, as well?
Celeste Robertson: Yeah, it’s the rules and regulations of the community. So yes, you could actually serve them a legal notice for a lease violation that they would have to correct. If they get a violation fine, and if they continue to do it, then the resident is also responsible for that fine.
Steve Rozenberg: Now let me ask you this. How hard is it in Las Vegas to evict someone on that? If they’re smoking and vaping in the house, from a practical standpoint, how hard is it to evict a tenant and is that something—do you recommend evicting a tenant based on them violating that lease?
Celeste Robertson: Evicting on a lease violation of any sort is difficult because you really have to prove it. So, you would serve them a notice and give them a time of correction. If you do get enough of those you can move to eviction. If you happen to be standing in front of a judge, you would be able to have those notices that you served, the violations, to show that the residents chose not to stay in compliance.
Steve Rozenberg: So there’s a protocol to doing this. You have to serve them. Are these certified or how do you handle the notifications that you give them?
Celeste Robertson: We use a professional service where they will professionally serve it and have a notice of serving it legally, so that it’s done by a third party so there’s no conflict of interests that come from the resident saying, “Oh, I never got it.”
Can You Tell if a Tenant is Smoking or Vaping?
Steve Rozenberg: So let me ask you this. When you’re dealing with that, and let’s just talk about vaping, because I’ve heard people say, “well, vaping is not smoking.” But it is a substance that is exhaled and it goes on to—there’s residue on the walls and stuff like this. When you go into a house, can you tell if somebody has been vaping inside of the house or is it not really that easy to tell?
Celeste Robertson: It’s not as easy as when you see the nicotine that’s on the walls. But nowadays, with this vaping, there’s all these flavors. And so, that is going to get into the smell of curtains, carpets, things like that. So you would eventually be able to tell, yes.
Steve Rozenberg: Now, and just to be clear, somebody smoking marijuana is different than somebody actually having a grow house, right? These are different things with a grow house situation. And I understand that obviously gets a little bit more exponentially serious when somebody has that. Do you have any advice? Have you ever dealt with a grow house in Vegas?
Celeste Robertson: I have. I personally have had one, but it was after the fact, where we found it after the resident had moved out, where they had it in their closet. And so it was a pretty big mess but that’s the only one I’ve had. Not very many grow houses, especially now since it’s been legalized. Nobody has to really do their own grow houses anymore.
Steve Rozenberg: Right, they can go to the local store and get it.
Celeste Robertson: Right.
Steve Rozenberg: Let me ask you this, when it is a grow house and someone’s doing that, is it considered hazmat or is that only for like methamphetamines and stuff like that?
Celeste Robertson: Right. That would be more of a chemical. This would just be a grow since it’s growing from something naturally. It’s just, the resident would be responsible for putting the unit back into its original condition.
Put it in the Lease Agreement
Steve Rozenberg: So if I was an investor and I had a rental property. What would you suggest—what kind of language should I put in my lease agreement that would help protect me? You know, should I go down this path, and I find out someone’s vaping and smoking and all that, is there some type of verbiage that you recommend?
Celeste Robertson: Well, if they’re going to use property managers—our service—we already have it in our lease. But you want to make sure you cover all bases by saying any substance that could that smoked, vaped, e-cigarette, and be causing a nuisance and damage to the property.
Steve Rozenberg: And are there any tester kits that you can do to actually—if you say they’re smoking, they may say they’re not? And I don’t even know; I’m just curious. Do test kits exist where you can actually certify that, yes, somebody was actually smoking, or is it more of a perspective when you go into the property?
Celeste Robertson: It’s pretty much more of perspective, because it’s not actually a chemical. It’s more than perspective by seeing the damage. And again, it just reiterates that it’s best to have a property manager that you’re going to walk in, you’re going to do an inspection and photos prior to move in where you would have comparisons to say, well, now look at the walls or look at the damage, as well as we have licensed vendors that go in on a move out or we have our inspectors and do inspections periodically at the property that would be able to make the notation, professionally.
Steve Rozenberg: And that’s the determination of wear and tear versus damage and knowledge of the law and all that stuff. So that’s good.
Celeste Robertson: Which is super important because it’s a very fine line.
Steve Rozenberg: It is a very fine line and it can be subject to your documentation that you have or don’t have that can actually determine whether or not you are able to hold someone liable. So that’s good.
Well, Celeste, thank you so much. If somebody wanted to get ahold of you at Mynd and talk about Las Vegas and property management, how would they do that?
Celeste Robertson: The best route of contact would be 833-MYND. That’s M-Y-N-D.
Steve Rozenberg: And if you wanted to find us on the web, you can go to MY-N-D.co, mynd.co. Also, we’ve got a great Facebook group. The MasterMynd Real Estate Investment Club. You can go ahead and look us up there, as well as our podcast show, the Myndful Investor podcast show on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, all those things.
And again, just investors trying to help fellow investors, trying to figure out how to kind of get through the grind sometimes when you own real estate. So, thank you very much. We’ll talk to you guys next time. Bye-bye.
Vaping and growing marijuana use are two developing challenges that property managers and landlords have had to face in recent years. With changing marijuana laws and developing vaping technology, rules around smoking that are typically found in lease agreements have become far more difficult to enforce.
With this said, the lease agreement is any owner or investor’s first and best defense against a tenant’s abuse of these rules. Clearly outlining the rules within the lease agreement is key for prevention, especially if the tenant is observed breaking such a rule. Likewise, the lease agreement can outline exactly what damages the tenant will be responsible for if it is discovered that they are vaping within the property.
While many tenants may not know that what they are doing is wrong or against the rules, it is up to every owner, investor or property manager to outline these rules. Doing so will make them far easier to enforce, and will absolutely save you money, should your tenant not comply with the regulations spelled out in the lease agreement.