Are Your Rental Properties Being Used As Cannabis Farms?

Tuesday, June 9, 2015
Over 450,000 Cannabis Plants Seized By Police In 2014

Over 450,000 Cannabis Plants Seized By Police In 2014

Over 450,000 Cannabis Plants Seized By Police In 2014

New figures recently released have revealed the extent of cannabis cultivation in the UK, affecting both landlords in the private rental sector (PRS) and social housing landlords.

The analysis of drug seizures in England and Wales in the 2013/14 tax year as recorded by the ONS, was conducted by Direct Line for Business, who found that the majority of the 456,911 cannabis plants seized by police forces across the UK last year were found in rented properties.

  • 59,002 cannabis plant seizures were made by the Metropolitan police, which equates to 2,936 cannabis plants per Million properties.
  • Wiltshire police force seized more cannabis plants per household than any other police force in the UK with 16,032 individual cannabis plants seized, which equates to 9,613 cannabis plants per Million properties.

Landlords need to ensure that they remain vigilant and have adequate landlord insurance in place that will cover damage caused by illegal activities within rented properties.Overall number of cannabis plant seizures dropped 10% between 2013 and 2014, however, a third of police forces witnessed an average 40% increase over the year.

  • West Mercia Police in the Midlands witnessed a 195% increase in cannabis plant confiscations
  • Cambridgeshire Police saw an increase in cannabis plant confiscations of 110%
  • Wiltshire Police saw an increase in cannabis plant confiscations of 75%

Cannabis Farms In Private Rented Sector PropertiesLandlords need to vet all prospective tenants thoroughly using professional tenant referencing providers to ensure that they are renting their properties to people who will treat the rented property as their home rather than a place to cultivate illegal substances.

Cannabis farms cause major damage to properties and can potentially void the landlords insurance policy.

Insurance companies have seen landlords forced to claim for damaged ceilings and walls which have been knocked through, severe water damage, ruined electrical installations and fires, all due to the criminal activity associated with cannabis farming.

PRS landlords could also face prosecution themselves if it is proved that they were aware of any criminal activity in their rental properties or if they received money or proceeds from illegal drug activity in their properties. These charges could carry heavy fines and even imprisonment in addition to the financial cost of repairing the rental properties, so it really pays to be vigilant.

The consequences of a cannabis farm in rented property can be financially catastrophic for many landlords who fail to obtain adequate landlord insurance and it is advised that landlords check that their insurance policy covers them for malicious damage by tenants.

Cannabis Farm In Rented PropertyThe structural damage caused by cannabis farming could have serious insurance implications, but the headache of organising any potential clean-up will hurt the landlord’s finances more, with loss of rent during repairs and further potential void periods whilst the property is re-advertised for rent.

Landlords need to be vigilant and investigate unusual tenant behaviour when it is reported to them by neighbours. Landlords should conduct comprehensive tenant referencing and background checks before offering any tenancy and they should also conduct regular property inspections every 3 – 6 months.

Signs that rental properties may be being used as a cannabis farm include:

  • • Excessive fortification of the property both inside and out
  • • Silver ducting tape hanging out of windows
  • • Blacked out windows
  • • Low-level hanging equipment
  • • Humidity: condensation on windows, peeling wallpaper, mildewed walls
  • • Pungent smells
  • • Excessive use of deodorisers and air freshener
  • • Sudden fluctuations in electricity bills
  • • Electrical wiring tampered with
  • • Powerful lights on day and night

Landlords who suspect that their rental property could be being used as a cannabis farm should contact their local police force straight away giving as much detail as possible and should not attempt to confront the tenants themselves.

This was written by Mike Clarke. Posted on at 11:30 am. Filed under Insurance. Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow comments here with the RSS feed. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.