Landlords: could your property be housing a cannabis factory?

Horror stories include a landlord who took six months’ rent up-front from a tenant, only to find the police knocking at his door. The tenant had demolished the internal walls of the property to create polytunnels where he was growing cannabis.

More worryingly, this kind of criminal activity may not just be producing cannabis. The NLA has heard of methylamphetamine (commonly known as crystal meth) also being produced in rented properties.

The process, while illegal, is also highly dangerous owing to the nature of the highly flammable elements used in producing the drug.

Police recommend that landlords complete full and proper reference checks with both previous employers and previous landlords before entering into a tenancy agreement to avoid taking on criminal tenants.

Landlords should look out for:

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.

NLA Chairman David Salusbury said: "Naturally this kind of news is worrying for landlords, but by taking references and making regular visits to your property, these problems can be avoided.

"The onus is on landlords to know what is going on in their property; if not they may find themselves responsible for utility bills, or facing huge repair bills if their property is used in the production of illegal substances."

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