QUESTION: Can a board be held liable if a unit owner has a permanent house guest that is dealing drugs from the unit?
ANSWER: Neighbors are understandably concerned for their safety when they see a stream of strangers going into and out of a unit–some of them rough looking. If a resident suffers harm or damage as a result of the drug-dealing resident, and the board had knowledge but did nothing to stop it, you can be sure the injured person’s lawyer will include the association in his/her lawsuit.
RECOMMENDATION: If directors believe a unit is being used to deal drugs, they should notify the police of their suspicions. They can send a letter to the police department (or have legal counsel do so).
Notify Owner? It’s possible that a letter by legal counsel to the resident may be sufficient to get the person to move their operations offsite. If the resident is a tenant, then a letter to the owner/landlord expressing concern and putting them on notice of potential liability may cause the landlord to take appropriate action.
Paper Trail. Beyond putting the resident on notice and notifying the police, there is very little the board can do. If the police do nothing and someone is harmed, the board will have a paper trail showing it took appropriate action to protect the membership. This should be sufficient to shield the association from potential liability.
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