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Is your rental property in danger of being turned into a cannabis factory? The number of cannabis factories being set up in rental properties is growing.
Detailing the threat, Police Sergeant Dave Perkins from Hertfordshire Constabulary said: “Nationally, the number of cannabis factories being set up is on the increase.
“They provide huge amounts of money for organised crime groups and pose a real risk to our communities.
“Often we find that these groups are using rental properties to cultivate cannabis, leaving property managers and landlords paying a high price due to the damage caused.”
As if to underline the problem, just last week (July 4), police in Greater Manchester discovered a cannabis factory in an unoccupied former police station in Oldham.
Safety concerns over cannabis factories
Apart from breaking the law, there are many safety concerns due to the nature and extent of alterations to properties where cannabis is being cultivated.
Holes may be cut into walls and ceilings to make way for the infrastructure of wires and tubing associated with hydroponic cultivation equipment.
Internal walls may be removed completely putting the property at risk of collapse, floors could be sodden with water and liable to fall through.
Fire is also a substantial danger because electrical fire safety guidelines are often disregarded. The removal of doors, or holes cut in walls can allow a fire to develop very quickly.
Tenant referencing must be extremely thorough
There are some simple precautions you can take to help prevent your rental home being converted into a cannabis factory.
Criminals are very good at falsifying papers, and often put up fake tenants when they rent a property, so make sure the referencing is thorough. Bank statements, driving licences and utility bills all need to match.
There are also some tactics criminal gangs use that should set the alarm bells ringing. These include offering to pay several months’ rent in advance, wanting to keep utility bills in the landlord’s name and asking for complete privacy preventing you or your agent from making periodic inspections.
Even if you’re satisfied with the referencing, regular inspections are essential. However, you can’t just spring an inspection on a tenant, as they are entitled to 24 hours’ notice.
It’s a good idea to be on good terms with the neighbours who can give you an early heads up about any suspicious activity, antisocial behaviour or damage to your property.
Adrian Flux landlord insurance is here to help
Gemma Delaney, Product & Underwriting Development Manager at Adrian Flux, the specialist home and contents insurance broker, said that although the number of rental properties being used as drug factories is on the increase it is still a relatively rare phenomenon.
She has some simple advice for people considering letting a property: “Always check that the cover your insurance provider offers includes malicious damage or vandalism caused by tenants.
“Some insurers exclude any damage caused by tenants, however, there are policies that do provide some level of cover, this may be capped at a certain amount or carry a higher excess than usual.
“It is also important to adhere to any conditions for inspections at the property and keep a record of them as evidence if you fall victim and you need to make a claim.”
If you suspect your rental is being used to cultivate drugs
Contact police on the non-emergency number 101. Alternatively, you can contact the independent crime-fighting charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or through their Anonymous Online Form at www.crimestoppers-uk.org.