Cannabis Farms: The Dangers and Tell-tale Signs for Landlords Cannabis Farms: The Dangers and Tell-tale Signs for Landlords

Cannabis Farms: The Dangers and Tell-tale Signs for Landlords

According to recent reports, 94% of cannabis farms (also known as factories or grows) are located in domestic premises.

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Since 2003, increasing numbers of rental properties have been targeted by gangs of cannabis cultivators looking to house their criminal activities.

The gangs are more likely to use a house than a flat, as they need space to cultivate their plants. They also tend to choose secluded properties in areas where there is little through-traffic, such as cul-de-sacs. To find out more about the extent of cannabis cultivation, take a look at our new analysis.

Damage and impact on landlords

Landlords who have been the victims of this type of criminal activity have reported the following types of damage to their properties:

  • Ceilings and walls knocked through and floorboards ripped out
  • Severe water damage
  • Fire and explosion
  • Furniture destroyed or thrown away
  • Wiring ripped out
  • Electricity meters bypassed

The consequences for landlords, in both financial and legal terms, can be catastrophic. In addition to the financial cost, landlords could also face prosecution themselves.

How to avoid falling victim

Steps you can take to weed out tenants who may be involved in this kind of activity:

Do

  • Carry out in-depth tenant checks:
    • Insist on photographic identification (check it hasn’t been altered)
    • Take references from previous landlords and employers
    • Check tenants’ current addresses
    • Look out for utility bills in different names 
  • Be wary of tenants who take particular interest in the electricity supply 
  • Be wary of tenants who want to move in very quickly
  • Carry out regular inspections of the property
  • Communicate with the neighbours regularly
  • Take mobile numbers for all tenant

Don't

  • Accept cash in advance for rent, deposit or administration fees
  • Offer short-term lets
  • Accept any requests for you not to visit the property to make an inspection
  • Allow the property to become ‘invisible’: keep the greenery trimmed back and make sure the house number is clearly visible from the road

Tell-tale signs

Here are some key warning signs that your property may be being used as a cannabis farm:

  • An unusual amount of activity when the tenants first move in
  • Paranoid behaviour by your tenants
  • A large number of visitors (day and night)
  • Excessive fortification of the property (inside and outside)
  • Silver ducting tape hanging out of windows
  • Blacked out windows
  • Low-level hanging equipment
  • Humidity: condensation on windows, peeling wallpaper, mildewed walls
  • A pungent smell
  • Excessive use of deodorisers and air freshener
  • Sudden fluctuations in electricity bills
  • Electrical wiring tampered with
  • Powerful lights on day and night
  • Noise
  • The following items around the property (inside and outside):
    • Plants, lights and reflective materials
    • Bulbs, soil, fertiliser
    • Flasks, beakers, rubber tubing
    • Bubble bags
    • Scales
    • Self-seal bags
    • Gas cylinders

If you recognise some of these things and suspect your property is being used as a cannabis farm, contact your local police straight away. Do not confront your tenants yourself.

The information contained on this web page is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or other professional advice. Direct Line for Business does not accept liability for the information contained on this web page, nor does it make any representations or warranties as to the completeness, accuracy or suitability of such information.

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Cannabis Farms: The Dangers and Tell-tale Signs for Landlords
Landlord Insurance Rental Road

Last Updated: 06 Jul 2015