Saturday, 21 March 2009

Big rise in cannabis 'factories' be vigilant warns Landlords Organisation

The National Landlords Assocation (NLA) has issued a warning to Landlords to be vigilant of the way their properties are used, following a BBC report into cannabis factories. According to the report, 29 police forces across the UK revealed a sharp rise in cannabis being produced in ‘factories’ inside rented housing. Although this is not a new problem, the NLA is reminding landlords to be aware of what could be going on behind the doors of their properties.

In June 2008, Aviva (Norwich Union Insurance) issued a press release stating that Residential may not be covered if their property is damaged by tenants using it for cannabis production.

In his career as a letting agent, Philip Suter of jml Property Services has come across tenants who had set up a small factory in an attic in Thame in Oxfordshire and in a garage in Iver in Buckinghamshire.

The NLA report warns Landlords to be on the look out for the following:

Strong smell of de-odourisers or air fresheners to disguise the smell of drug production
Lights being left on all day and night and curtains and blinds drawn
A sudden jump or fall in electricity bills
Possible rewiring
High humidity in the property

The Aviva/ Norwich Union report says: Listed below are some common trends to help identify the typical methods for growing cannabis.

Cannabis plants are typically grown in individual pots throughout the property, with walls, ceilings and doors lined with plastic or polythene.
Windows will normally have blinds or curtains closed to obscure any activity.
The plants are irrigated through pump spray guns, such as those used in a domestic garden, rather than having garden hoses plugged into a sink or basin
High powered lighting is installed in each room and the electricity has probably been tampered with to bypass the meter.
A considerable amount of condensation is produced
A pungent smell, which may be noticed through the walls of adjoining properties but ducting and extractor fans are installed and fed through the chimney or flue to prevent this.

Landlords if you are managing the letting of your property carry out regular inspections and make sure your letting agent carries out thorough inspections if the agent is managing a property. If you or the agent can't get into an individual room, outbuilding or garage, it could mean that your tenants have a cannabis factory set up. There course can be a totally innocent reason for not being able to gain access. Take care and don't risk your insurance.

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