Rental property used to grow pot

6:50 PM, Jan 2, 2014   |    comments
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LARKSPUR - A landlord is out rent and stuck with a home that needs repair after an illegal marijuana grower skipped out on his responsibilities.

Lana Wagner rented the home to Rey David Vargas seven months ago.

"[It's] dirty, smells horrible," Wagner said. "[it's] not the same house as it was before."

The lease Vargas signed expressly said he was not to grow any type of medicinal or commercial plants.

Four months into Vargas' lease, Wagner noticed the pot and took a picture of it.

"We talked to him about possibly buying the house from us," she said. "If he was going to continue to lease it, we would have the state come in and inspect it, to make sure that everything was up to their regulations."

Seven months after moving in, Vargas signed a lease release. He stated that he was "unable to grow medicinal marijuana without purchasing the home." He had a two year lease.

Vargas is not licensed as a medical or retail marijuana business with the State Department of Revenue.

Under Amendment 64, Vargas couldn't operate out of a home anyway. There are several regulations governing a licensed commercial operation.

Commercial grows are illegal in Douglas County. People are allowed to have up to six plants.

The Colorado Health Department could not confirm if Vargas is a licensed caregiver, citing privacy laws.

Wagner has to repaint the walls and clean the carpets in order to rent it out again. Wagner says Vargas still owes her at least two months of rent.

"We are stuck with our rent payment and a mortgage payment," she said. "We live day-to-day. We're just the average family trying to make it."

She could take Vargas to court, but if he has nothing to pay, it might be a losing proposition, suggested real estate attorney Drew Hamrick.

Hamrick said frequent home inspections and communication are key for tenant-landlord relations.

"Having a bigger deposit... will give you recourse," Hamrick said.

Wagner is hoping her story will be a cautionary tale for others.

9NEWS contacted Vargas. He texted us saying his lawyer would be in touch. That lawyer never contacted 9NEWS.

People claiming to know Vargas texted 9NEWS. They sent lewd pictures and comments.

(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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