Safeguarding your property from cannabis farming
The illegal sale of cannabis is a £2.6 billion a year business in the UK and criminal elements have taken to growing the illegal substance indoors, in unsuspecting rental homes, especially those that are remotely located or ones out in the country. This could be a nasty business for property owners. Insurance firms say that a third of all malicious damage claims are from landlords whose properties were converted into illegal cannabis farms which can cause expensive mould and water damage. That and the fact that the property owner could be held accountable for allowing the property to be used in the cultivation, production, possession and supply of the illegal substance.
How to protect your property?
Everyone’s good until proven otherwise. Prospective tenants are at their best behaviour when they come around for interviews, so it would be a bit tricky to be judging a book by its cover. Your best recourse is still to have a thorough background check. Letters of recommendation, reference letters, credit checks, employment are the sort of things you need to ask about.
If your property is out in the country or outside of the city, ask why they’re interested in it especially if their kind of work doesn’t tie-up with the location or if they offer to pay the rent months in advance. Don’t leave all the decisions to the letting agents. Have a hand in keeping a close eye in selecting your prospective tenants. After all, it is still your property, and you do have a say on who you will allow to use it. Again, always look into the background check, if you feel something is amiss, then, by all means, look for other suitable tenants.
Keep access to the property.
This could be a little bit tricky unless, as a landlord, you have made provisions to make regular visits to the property, and the tenants agree. The Residential Landlords’ Association (RLA) grants the tenant “exclusive possession” while renting your property, meaning you do not have access to the property. However, if for some reason, your suspicions are raised, you must report the situation to the authorities and leave them to do the necessary actions. As a landlord, having your property converted into an illegal cannabis farm, puts you at a grave disadvantage. Many insurance policies offer no coverage for malicious damages; if they do, it probably won’t be that much. Losses incurred by cultivating cannabis may reach up to tens of thousands of pounds. The amount of electricity needed to grow marijuana means knocking through walls to install the cables, not to mention the water damage when spraying the plants. The financial loss would be immense to repair the damages. Your safety may be at risk considering that cannabis farms are illegal, and criminal elements are running them. With the amount of money involved, these people will have no qualms putting you on the line if they think that you are in the way of them getting their bounty.
The fact that it’s illegal can get you entangled with the law, and you would have to prove your innocence, this would take time and of course, money. Prevention, as they say, is critical. Having your property converted into a cannabis farm would be nightmarish and something you might want to avoid at all costs.