Securing witnesses when evicting for crime or violence

When there is criminal activity occurring in and around rental units, landlords need to recognize that it must be addressed proactively and that their foremost obligation is to provide safe housing.

Even if a crime is not prosecuted, our office can serve a 3-day notice to quit and proceed with an eviction if there is credible evidence that there is drug dealing, violence, or other nefarious activity going on.

From our hard-won experience, many neighboring tenants who witness this criminal activity are scared of retaliation by reporting it. Please be aware that their eyewitness accounts can remain anonymous - it is not necessary to name them at first.

Keep in mind, 98% of cases settle. If, however, the eviction case goes to trial, it will become a problem if no witnesses come forward to testify. Community members must have the courage to tell a judge or jury of the dysfunction they have seen.

We do know from experience, however, that when drug dealers and other bad actors are served a 3-day notice to quit and their enterprise is brought to light, they do not want to stick around. They want to move their business elsewhere.

In order to assuage them, Bornstein Law can issue a subpoena, creating the optics that the witness is not there voluntarily to “snitch” on a person, but that, in fact, they are in court because they are compelled to do so.

A subpoena is also prudent because even voluntary witnesses will find that they can be excused from work when it is time to tell their story.