Cannabis Gangs Target Buy to Lets as Drug Factories

Cannabis Gangs Target Buy to Lets as Drug Factories

10:10 AM, 23rd January 2012, About 12 years ago 10

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Police are warning landlords that crime gangs are looking for rental homes to turn into cannabis factories.

A clear trend is emerging as drug barons turn away from growing cannabis in bulk at single locations.

The latest criminal intelligence reveals the drug dealers are favouring turning buy to let homes in to small factories to decrease the risk of police seizing their crops in a single raid.

Instead, the gangs are renting buy to let homes all over the country and moving in one or two ‘farmers’ to look after the crops.

Many of the buy to let cannabis farms are set up by gangs from the Far East who fit properties out with sophisticated heating, lighting and watering systems.

The latest conviction was Vietnamese illegal immigrant Son Ngoc, who was tending 300 cannabis plants in a rented home in Livingston, Scotland.

The farm was discovered when the landlord turned up to check the property. Police were called and arrested Ngoc.

The 21-year-old was jailed for two years and eight months at Livingstone Sheriff Court on Thursday after admitting involvement in supplying the drug. The court was told the plants would have produced around 14 kilogrammes of cannabis valued at up to £75,000.

A few days ago, police arrested two Vietnamese teenagers looking after cannabis plants worth an estimated £150,000 in a four-bedroom detached buy to let home in Barnalby le Beck, North East Lincolnshire.

In another case a few days ago, Tuyen Vu, 38, and Minh Luong, 21, were jailed for growing cannabis at a rented house in Harrow, North London.

Police raided the home and found the rooms packed out with cannabis plants.

Vu was jailed for 24 months and Luong received 20 months at Harrow Crown Court.

Police say the tell tale signs of a cannabis farm are the smell, condensation on the windows and blacked out rooms even in the daytime.

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14:10 PM, 23rd January 2012, About 12 years ago

So what should we be doing to stop it happening to us?

15:04 PM, 23rd January 2012, About 12 years ago

Surely ALL landlords know that any Vietnamese tenant will most likely be involved in cannabis farming.
Personally if I took one on I would contact the local police and advise they may well have an issue with the property.
I would also make available  keys for them.
A lot of these people try and give 6 months rent in advance which I have learnt from Mary Latham creates a defacto premium tenancy.
Therefore I will never accept such advance monies.
Does anyone remember the police commander who took on a Vietnamese tenant and was eventually found to have a cannabis farm.
Even I knew about Vietnamese criminal gangs.
Embarrassing that this top policeman was not more wordly wise!?
I think advice to tenants that you will attend the property and expect to gain entry and if there is refusal to allow entry after a couple of attempts then a Section 8 will be issued to commence poceedings against the tenants.

Mark Alexander - Founder of Property118

15:22 PM, 23rd January 2012, About 12 years ago

Oh come on Paul ..........

Your advice about being wary of taking six months rent up front is perfectly sound and the points you make about creating premium tenancies and the likelihood of such an offer coming from a cannabis grower being greater than from a law abiding citizen are all valid. However, race should not come into this debate. Fair enough, the article cites convictions of Vietnamese people but that should not reflect upon a whole Nation! Cannabis growers come from all Countries. I was also rather shocked at your comment about informing the Police and giving them keys. Surely if you had any idea that somebody who wanted to rent one of your properties was up to no good you would simply tell them they can't rent your property and find somebody you felt would be more trustworthy?

Mark Alexander - Founder of Property118

15:25 PM, 23rd January 2012, About 12 years ago

Referencing, guarantors and being on your guard if you you are offered rent up front. For further insight into how I choose my tenants please see the link below. 

23:00 PM, 23rd January 2012, About 12 years ago

Just watch the Panorama programme abot the Vietnamese criminals.
No racism it is just this lot seem to specialise in this sort of criminal activity.
Are the BBC racist!!!?

Mark Alexander - Founder of Property118

23:11 PM, 23rd January 2012, About 12 years ago

The BBC are not immune to racism Paul, just look at the trouble they are in at theoment with India and the Top Gear antics. It never pays to imply a whole Country, Race are Nationality are the same. Good and bad exists everywhere. The associations are strong with some countries, for example, if you surveyed 100 people and asked them to name a country associated with scams I suspect more than half of them would name one particular country. Does that mean that everybody or at least half the population of that country are corrupt? Probably not. Please can we leave race out of our debates. It is in the T's and C's after all.

13:09 PM, 24th January 2012, About 12 years ago

Well I will be exercising due diligence and of course every landlord has their own take on due diligence concerning tenants.
I will take into account local intelligence and reporting regarding issues with nationality stereotypes.
If this means I don't take such nationalities as tenants then tough.
I also saw the Top Gear programmes .
Nothing racist about it at all.
Nationalities always have always laughed at cultures different from themselve; that is not racist.
Anybody taking the mick out of the Brits I would never consider  to be racist .
We are are all running scared of being PC and I for one disagree with  it .
However your forum; as is your choice may determine the level and con tent of discussion.
I have no issue with that and consequently won't bother commenting on this issue further so avoiding the hassle of you having to moderate.

Steve Masters

17:51 PM, 24th January 2012, About 12 years ago

The cannabis farmers are experienced criminals, they employ a front person (or people) with a brilliant cover story to view and rent the property. They will not smell of cannabis, they will not have have a cauliflower ear and they will not look dodgy in any way, in fact the opposite is more likely to be true, beware the perfect young couple! So race doesn't come into it.

When you think you are vetting them, they will in fact be vetting you!

What they will be looking for is an absent and/or easy going landlord that is not likely to bother them once they are in growing their plants and wrecking your house. Suggest to all prospective tenants that it is standard practice for you to arrange a full internal inspection after the first two months and again before any tenancy renewal. I said SUGGEST, this should be enough to deter any farmers and any real tenants should be OK with this. You don't actually have to carry your internal inspection, but do be suspicious of not being let into the property when you do need to visit.

Always be on the look out for constantly closed curtains (especially during the day), sealed windows and any strange smell, pungent, sweet or otherwise (masked by huge amounts of air freshener or spicy cooking etc etc). Remember, your tenants will always have a very plausible excuse for what ever you spot.

So the best bet is to deter them from picking you as their landlord.

Mark Alexander - Founder of Property118

20:29 PM, 24th January 2012, About 12 years ago

Sounds like a voice of experience. I've never been cursed with this problem but I've spoken to several landlords who have and they all tell stories along very similar lines to what you have cited Steve. Either I've been lucky or my rigorous and nosey vetting procedure has put the crooks off. Law of averages says that I must have been targeted at some point, simply due to the number of tenant viewings I've had over the years. I've sometimes wondered why "that lovely couple" didn't proceed and questioned whether my vetting is too harsh and put people off. Just goes to show doesn't it, if your property is good enough quality and competitively priced you can't be too vigilant and you will always find the right tenants without the need to take risks. Great advice, great contribution, thank you.

21:26 PM, 24th January 2012, About 12 years ago

Telling everyone that view, that you take a good quality photo of
all the people you rent too may go some way to put the criminals off.  The front person does not wish to be linked
to the crime. 
Maybe sending a photo of the prospective
talent with every reference request would make it harder for the “front person”
to use a fake ID.   I don’t think I can
tell a fake passport form a real one unless maybe it is a UK password, but we
are not allowed these days to only rent to people with uk passports – a UK
driving licence mean very little as so few checks are on before they are given
But I am thinking more and more that you can’t beat a home owner guarantor.

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