But it’s not just drugs. Prostitution is also found across the private-rented sector, with homes being used as brothels. Criminals are attracted to rented properties, often in quiet residential areas, as a base to operate without the fear of being disturbed.
Unfortunately, when these kind of crimes take place, it’s the landlord who ends up footing the bill. Many insurance policies are rendered invalid when criminal activity takes place in a property and the damage caused can run into thousands of pounds.
One NLA member lost £20,000 when two of his properties were used to grow cannabis. The gang involved took out internal walls and rewired the property directly to the electrical mains. And landlords who find brothels in their properties and fail to report them can face prosecution.
Five ways to beat the criminal gangs:
1 Take detailed references. These should include a credit check, and references from their employer and their current landlord;
2 Don’t take rent up front. Often criminals offer this as way to ensure they are left alone;
3 Check on the property regularly. This can be done at least quarterly and more regularly if you have concerns, provided you have given sufficient notice;
4 Get to know the neighbours, as they can alert you to any suspicious activity;
5 If have suspicions of criminal behaviour do not confront your tenant. Go straight to the police.
David Salusbury, Chairman, NLA, said: "It is vital landlords are aware of the threat these criminals pose. Criminal activity not only has an impact on the landlord’s property, but on the community as whole. The production of some drugs involves highly flammable material, which poses a dangerous fire risk. More worryingly, criminals use the proceeds of their crime to fund other, more serious crimes such as people trafficking.
"You may think ‘it will never happen to me’, but these incidents are on the increase. The checks you make before a tenant moves in are a key way to prevent becoming a victim of these crimes."
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