Nearly 8,000 cannabis farms were identified in the UK in 2011 and 2012, a 15% increase from the previous two years. It is a fact that many growers of this class B drug choose to do so in properties within the private rented sector. For this reason, the National Landlords Association has issued a new warning to be on guard and take measures to avoid becoming a victim of this illegal activity.
Just last week, a grower in Leeds was handed a 10-month sentence for cultivating 16kg of the drug with a street value of well over £100,000. It would seem his landlord hadn’t paid close enough attention!
It highlights the importance of thorough tenant checks before beginning a tenancy, and of communicating with tenants throughout the tenancy. Landlords can lose out big if one of their tenants is a grower, as many insurance policies are rendered invalid when criminal activity takes place in the property. The cost of damages and utility bills can be huge.
When inspecting a property, it is unlikely the growers will leave their plants out in the open. But an excess of air freshener, deodorant, or Febreze can be a hint that something suspicious is afoot. That, or you have very smelly tenants!
To lower the risk of properties becoming cannabis farms, the NLA “advises landlords to take full references from their tenants, avoid taking long term rents up-front, check on the property often and get to know the neighbours in the area and encourage them to report anything suspicious.”