Police forces across the country do keep a lookout for rented properties being used to grow cannabis. Even so, here at Adler Insurance Brokers we have experienced claims for damage caused by unscrupulous tenants that have ranged from a few thousand pounds to total losses from resultant fire.
Landlords who have been the victims of this type of criminal activity have reported the following types of damage to their properties:
- Ceilings and walls knocked through and floorboards ripped out
- Severe water damage
- Fire and explosion
- Furniture destroyed or thrown away
- Wiring ripped out
- Electricity meters bypassed
The consequences for landlords, in both financial and legal terms, can be catastrophic. In addition to the financial cost, landlords could also face prosecution themselves.
We are always searching for new ways to help prevent clients’ rental properties from being turned into a cannabis factory. This weeks’ Knowledge Centre article contains some simple best practice guidance which should either help to prevent a claim, or will at least demonstrate to an insurer that you have tried to reduce the risk of a claim.
Do not accept payment of a deposit or rent in cash. Do not accept more than 2 months’ rent in advance. Insist that all payments are made from a bank account either by personal cheque from the tenant or bank transfer.
Inspect your premises regularly and include an internal viewing. The National Landlord Association (NLA) advises that this ought to be undertaken every 90 days (or more regularly if you have concerns about the property), provided you give your tenant sufficient notice. These visits can be undertaken on your behalf by a managing agent or by a trusted neighbour, but these visits must be documented and date-verified (e.g. confirmation by email that an inspection had been undertaken). An insurer would ask for evidence of regular inspections in the event of a claim.
References should be obtained for all persons named on the tenancy agreement. These should come from an employer and a previous landlord (if applicable), or a Tenant Referencing Service. References should always be requested in writing and should be followed up to confirm their legitimacy.
Help from the neighbours
Wherever possible, get to know or remain friendly with people living in neighbouring properties and ask them to let you know if they notice anything suspicious. They should look out for blacked out windows, pungent odours, excessive security measures, overly paranoid behaviour by your tenants, regular visitors at unusual hours, ducting tubes protruding through windows, gas cylinders, bin bags filled with vegetable material or pot-shaped root balls being thrown away or discarded in the garden.
Sub-letting should not be allowed unless monthly inspections are agreed with the lead tenant. This will ensure that only referenced tenants occupy your premises and will reduce the risk of illegal sub-tenant activities.
If you recognise some of these things and suspect your property is being used as a cannabis farm, contact your local police straight away. Do not confront your tenants yourself.
The information contained on this web page is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or other professional advice. Adler Insurance Brokers does not accept liability for the information contained on this web page, nor does it make any representations or warranties as to the completeness, accuracy or suitability of such information.