Cannabis farms in rented accommodation have been a problem for Landlords for a number of years and sadly it’s on the increase. Growers who set them up are said to produce more than 80% of the cannabis smoked in the UK today.
For landlords, the discovery of a cannabis farm can be devastating. Under S.8 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 a landlord or Property Manager can receive a maximum of 14 years in prison and/or a fine if they knowingly permit the production of controlled drugs to take place in rented accommodation. Arguably, “knowingly permit” could include turning a blind eye to the production of cannabis to ensure that their rental income continues.
Landlords and their agents should therefore take steps to minimise the risk of cannabis cultivation in rented accommodation. Some signs to watch out for include:
Tenant’s paying a large amount of rent up front.
Tenant’s refusing regular inspections or restricting access to parts of the property during inspections.
Tenant’s covering up or blacking out windows.
Signs of meter tampering.
If there is a suspicion that cannabis is being grown at the property landlords should not address the matter directly with their tenant but should report it to the police. The landlord is then advised to serve the tenant with a Section 8 notice and follow the correct protocol.
So how can you spot the cannabis farm next door to you?
1/ Follow your nose. A cannabis crop takes about three months to produce and that sweet sickly smell is unmistakable.
2/ Growers require constant 2,000 watts for their crop, so look out for curtains in rooms that are never open or are blacked out to cover the brilliant sunshine in that room. No it’s not a vampire living there it’s most likely a cannabis farm.
3/ The lights give of a tremendous amount of heat. In the early days it was fairly obvious who was growing cannabis during the snowy season – the house with no snow on the roof. The growers are becoming more savy and now use internal tents which isolate a lot of the heat, therefore making it harder for the police to detect cannabis farms with their infra-red cameras.
4/ Growers have to ventilate the plants and the large extractor fans used, generally emit a low hum. Have you heard the same low hum every morning and at the same time coming from your neighbours house? It could be the cannabis farm starting the days work.
5/ Growers tend to live in a vicious world not knowing when the door is going to get kicked in and by whom so they ensure that their place is like a fortress with bars and grilles on the windows portcullises on the doors and CCTV cameras.
Not all farms are inhabited by the grower though, so watch out for signs that there is no one actually living there: unkempt gardens, bins never emptied or the postman never having post. Watch out for neighbours that are far too friendly and try to overcompensate in their efforts not to annoy you or make you suspicious as to what they’re really up too.
landlords very rarely recover the full repair cost of the damage that is done to their property in these situations, so be vigilant if you are managing your own portfolio. If an agent is managing your properties, ensure they are carrying out regular inspections.
until next week.