Landlords warned of rise in cannabis farms in rental properties | CPS Homes

Landlords warned of rise in cannabis farms in rental properties

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.

How can you spot a cannabis farm?

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:

  • Do not rush into a tenancy agreement, no matter how attractive the financial offer may appear.
  • Take time to check for photo identification and ensure it isn’t altered or fake. Keep a copy of this photo ID. If you have joint applications, request more than one type of ID.
  • Be sure to run credit checks and take up references.
  • Keep a watch out for accounts in different names, such as telephone, water, gas and electricity accounts.
  • Check the current address and rental history of prospective tenants. If they live locally, you could consider asking to visit them at their current address.
  • Request mobile phone numbers of prospective tenants and make a record of any car registration numbers.
  • Carry out thorough inspections of your rental property on a regular basis.
  • Consider providing a weekly/bi-weekly/monthly cleaning service within the tenancy, as this will mean that the property is carefully monitored on a consistent basis.
  • Re-visit the property a few weeks after new tenants have moved in to ensure a “Front Couple” hasn’t been used by a criminal gang and that the person you rented to is in fact the occupier. The first bin/recycling day could be a good time to see if there are electric lamp boxes, empty Gro Bags or compost bags being disposed.

Here at CPS Homes we’re proud to be Cardiff’s largest letting and estate agent with a knowledgeable team full of expert advice. Whether you’re looking to buy, sell, rent or let a property in Cardiff, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today by calling 02920 668585, e-mailing enquiries@cpshomes.co.uk or popping into one of our three Cardiff branches.

20 November 2019

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