The damage caused to a property used as a cannabis farm can be catastrophic, with internal walls removed, the cost of repairs running into the tens of thousands, and insurance companies potentially not paying out.
The factories not only produce cannabis, but also fund other illegal activity in the UK, such as the distribution of harder drugs and people trafficking.
To stop this happening landlords have a responsibility to make sure they are aware of what is going on in their property.
Tips for landlords:
• DO make regular appointments to check the property, this can be done quarterly, and more often if you are concerned, provided you give your tenant sufficient notice;
• DO take full references – these should come from a former employer and previous landlords;
• DON’T take six months rent up front – it could be a sign of illegal activity;
• DO get to know the neighbours and ask them to keep an eye out for anything suspicious.
Safety is also a concern. The properties themselves become a fire hazard due to amateur electrical wiring and the heat involved in the production of the plants. One factory in Hove tapped electricity directly from the mains – when the lights in the factory were turned on neighbours noticed all the lights on the road dim.
David Salusbury, Chairman said: "Cannabis factories are a blight on local communities and make their neighbours’ lives a misery. We very much welcome any moves to track down where these factories are and shut them down.
"Of course, for landlords, it is once the police have cleared the property that the real challenge begins. Having to assess the level of damage and try and find the cash to make the property fit to rent once more. It is a horrible experience and is potentially avoidable if landlords follow some simple precautionary steps."
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