New figures have revealed a notable increase in the number of landlord insurance claims where damage to rental properties has been caused by people using them to grow cannabis.
The analysis released by Direct Line for Business reveals a steep increase in the number of police investigations that have been carried out in relation to the theft of electricity. People are tampering with gas or electricity meters to distort the recording of the actual energy used, and a high percentage of investigations link the theft to cannabis farming, particularly in rental properties.
The data reveals that cases related to the theft of electricity are projected to be up 13% this year when compared to figures in 2018. An estimated 2,200 cases are expected in 2019 against 1,950 cases in 2018, a rise of 250 cases. Police suspect that almost a quarter of these cases (23%) involve electricity being stolen for the cultivation or manufacture of illegal drugs.
Many of these cannabis farms are found located inside rental properties, therefore the police are now helping landlords spot potential signs that their rental property may be falling victim and being used to grow cannabis.
A warning sign may be in the approach - a landlord may be approached by what appears to be plausible tenants, perhaps even a family, who are keen to move in at short notice with a full 6- or 12-month’s rent offered to be paid in advance. This will be in hope of avoiding a visit from the landlord during that time so that they can keep them at arm’s length. These potential tenants are known as a “Front Couple” and may simply be a front for a criminal gang who are looking to quickly utilise your rental property as a cannabis farm.
Landlords are urged to follow the below advice to deter criminals from renting properties to grow cannabis:
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