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cannabis farm

Is your buy-to-let property being used as a cannabis farm?

Landlord News by: Madalena Penny

Farming in Plymouth seems to be popular these days, especially cannabis farming at any rate. Just hours after police raided one house on Sunday, in a further property, Police seized £50,000 worth of cannabis plants and cash.

According to national statistics, about 19 in every 20 cannabis farms can be found in residential properties, and ones rented out by private landlords appear to be the preferred choice for cannabis growers. A study by Crimestoppers revealed a 150% increase in the number of cannabis farms established in the UK.

Police continue to warn private landlords of the dangers of letting houses to tenants without making the proper reference and identity checks. Landlords can be left incredibly vulnerable and out of pocket by thousands due to unscrupulous drug farmers looking for a safe and private place to grow cannabis. Repairs can cost up to £20,000 and most landlord insurance will not cover that kind of damage. And to exacerbate matters, if a landlord is found to have turned a blind eye to the farming, he could find himself being landed with a prison sentence.

In one instance, a landlord in Plymouth was left with a hefty repair bill when her home was used by one such farming gang. When police raided the property, a huge hole had been made in the ceiling to facilitate the ventilation duct, and ceilings sagged due to the weight of the plants being grown in the loft.

However, it can be difficult to spot which prospective tenants are looking to set up a cannabis farm in your property. They may look respectable, and have the upfront rent and necessary deposits, but how can you tell?  If you are not using a letting agent, ensure that your tenant reference service carry out a full and thorough check.

Ensure

  • Check all references, and ask to see a current utility/council tax bill;
  • Make sure that the tenant is aware that you will be carrying out periodic property inspections;
  • That subletting is not allowed;
  • Do not be tempted if the tenant offers you the full amount of rent upfront for the tenancy. Insist on a monthly direct debit from their bank account to yours.

How can you tell if your property is being used as a cannabis farm?

  • Look for blacked out windows – farmers like complete privacy;
  • Lights stay on throughout day and night;
  • Sweet, pungent odour coming from the property;
  • Bin bags of soil and garden waste left outside the property;

However, if you do suspect your property is being used as a cannabis farm, or any other type of drug factory, do not attempt to confront the tenant directly. Instead tell the police of your suspicions. Even if you think they have abandoned your property and it is empty, do not attempt to enter it. There are some cannabis farmers that use boobie-traps around the property to deter rival drug gangs and thieves from stealing their plants. It has been known for nails to be glued on window sills and broken glass to be left near doors to deter their rivals.

If you do suspect your property is being used as a cannabis farm, contact Crimestopppers on 0800 555 111

Photograph by Peter

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