If other tenants in a rental home (roommates) are breaking the law and the landlord has been informed but refuses to do anything about it, is the landlord breaking the law or does a tenant (who's not involved in the illegal activity) have any special power?

In particular if you move into a house and find the other tenants do a lot of drugs (and have photos/videos proving it) but most of the drugs are "light" such as marijuana. However they trash the house and make loud noise at 4am, house is filled with smoke, always intoxicated etc.

If relevant the tenants signed a lease saying they wouldn't do anything illegal.

  • You should be careful about rocking the boat unless you're ready to move quickly. Not sure about BC, but in Ontario, the scenario you describe makes you forfeit of most protections as a renter. The conditions here are: a) must have your own private entrance, b) must not share facilities such as kitchens, among other things. If either of these are true, you're a boarder, and at least here, you can be booted out with absolutely no notice.
    – user900
    Sep 26, 2015 at 3:37
  • 1
    If your roommates are engaging in illegal activity, and you do not want to be exposed to this illegal activity, you should probably move out. It is a more certain way of removing yourself from the situation than trying to get some sort of enforcement imposed on the law breakers.
    – phoog
    Sep 26, 2015 at 4:46
  • @ColleenV to what extent is what you say true? Landlords can be held responsible if illegal activity is going on in their property, even if it is the tenants who caused it.
    – Alex
    Sep 26, 2015 at 8:07
  • @TechnikEmpire can you rephrase, I understand what you're saying but can't see the point? I didn't have a private entrance and shared the kitchen etc. with the two other tenants.
    – Alex
    Sep 26, 2015 at 8:09
  • 1
    @Alex, can you please stop asking landlord/tenant questions without the british-columbia tag? these things are codified by the state/province, and you're not doing anyone a favour by omitting the jurisdiction of the question
    – cnst
    Sep 27, 2015 at 5:52

3 Answers 3


Your landlord has an obligation to allow "quiet enjoyment" of the premises. Essentially this means that, unless they are damaging his or her property, the tenants are entited to act as though it were their own property.

Many people take drugs at home.

Between the tenants and the landlord this is not something the landlord is allowed to get involved in.

If you believe there is criminal activity going on, you can but are not obliged to report it to the police.

  • 1
    Sorry, this is wrong.
    – Alex
    Nov 6, 2015 at 8:21

Your landlord is not a law enforcement official. When you think that a crime is taking place, inform the police.

  • That is ridiculous. That's like saying if you see someone run a stoplight that's breaking the law so call 911.
    – Alex
    Sep 26, 2015 at 8:06
  • 3
    @Alex You shouldn't ask for advice and then shoot it down, it'll make people reluctant to help you. Philipp is right, the landlord can just turn a blind eye. However, if you can prove that him turning a blind eye cause you damages or grief, you can take him before the relevant tribunal and attempt to force a ruling ordering some repayment of rent. That's about your only option.
    – user900
    Sep 26, 2015 at 8:33
  • I actually looked it up and the landlord does in fact have obligation to ensure quite enjoyment. So this answer is definitely wrong. Dec 2, 2015 at 2:44

Landlords themselves don't like to decide who has to be booted out from their premises, because then the offender can sue the landlord for unfair discrimination.

If you're having noise issues at 4am, most cities across North America generally have noise ordinances. Again, it's not the landlord that has to enforce such ordinances, but the police. I've lived in a low-rise 1b/1ba apartment building where an adjacent neighbour thought he was living in a "house", and had a home theatre system going up all night; the solution was to notify the police on multiple occasions, only after which the landlord would have the option to terminate the lease of the offenders, or face paying a fine to the city. (The landlord office themselves suggested that I either have to call the police, or, if I want, they could terminate my own lease without a penalty, since they couldn't act on their own in the situation.)

Your options at this point would be to call the police in regards to the noise issues at 4am, and discuss with the landlord the option of moving out without a penalty since the provisions of your lease are not honoured. Unfortunately, it's a bit unrealistic to expect and require that the every landlord will initiate any other action in the situation.

  • can you be more specific as to what state your situation occurred in? Because a state like Texas for example, is pro-landlord and refuses to hold landlords accountable for the behavior of other tenants towards your quiet enjoyment.
    – Daniel
    May 28, 2020 at 22:45
  • @Daniel The above story was in North Carolina. This all depends on state and local laws, obviously, as well as whether the landlord is in a long-term business to ensure the happiness of their customers.
    – cnst
    May 31, 2020 at 16:53

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .