All landlords must be aware of the risks they face regarding cannabis farming. Our guide will help you protect your property and prevent criminal activity, not to mention the hefty repair bills that cannabis farms can create.
The latest figures from the Government show that 366,841 cannabis plants were seized across England and Wales over 2014/15. Although this marks a 20% decrease on the previous year, the number of seizures by police was actually up in some regions.
In the West Midlands, police seized 54,700 plants last year – the highest number of any region. Greater Manchester followed, with 41,569 seizures in the region.
The greatest increase in cannabis seizures was in Suffolk, where police seized 4,616 plants over 2014/15 – almost seven times more than in 2013/14.
So how do you protect your property from being turned into a cannabis farm by tenants?
All landlords should conduct periodic inspections, usually every three to six months. Visiting the property regularly helps you take note of any changes or damage to the property. It also helps you get a good idea of how the tenants are treating your investment. Remember to make notes, take photographs, and compare the property’s condition to that stated on the inventory.
If you do find or suspect that your tenants are engaging in illegal activity, contact the police and explain what you have found. Once they are noted, you can begin eviction proceedings and get your property back to a habitable state.
While it is best practice to conduct reference checks on all prospective tenants, this is particularly important if you wish to ‘weed’ out rogue renters. Remember to get an employer’s reference, credit check and a previous landlord/letting agent statement. If the tenant doesn’t meet your standards after the screening, it is better to move onto different tenants than risk your property ending up as a cannabis farm.
There are often warning signs associated with cannabis farming, so be aware of any complaints made against your tenants by their neighbours. When you visit the property, sniff around for any unusual odours. You could also check how much energy is being used at the property – growing cannabis often involves a higher and more constant use of electricity and water, so check the meter if the tenant is responsible for bills. In addition, be wary of tenants that want to offer you upfront cash payments for rent; this is common practice for those engaging in illegal activity.
A good landlord insurance provider, such as Just Landlords, will cover you against unauthorised alteration – this is when the tenant makes unapproved changes to your property. Included under this cover is cannabis farming. Tenants can cause extensive, and expensive, damage to your investment when they convert it into a cannabis farm. Making sure that you take out a policy with this cover included is vital to ensuring peace of mind. With Just Landlords, not only will you be insured if your tenant turns your property into a cannabis farm, but you will also be protected by our 32 other essential covers – the widest cover on the market. Can you afford to miss out?
Remember to prevent criminal activity at your rental property by conducting thorough reference checks and periodic inspections on every tenant. If you do discover any indication of cannabis farming, contact the police immediately and evict your tenants. And don’t forget the importance of finding an insurance provider that will cover you for unauthorised alteration!