14:49 PM, 27th October 2010, About 12 years ago
Landlords need to turn detective and make sure they police how tenants are using their rental properties otherwise insurers could refuse to pay out on claims for damage left behind by crooks.
One of the largest UK insurers, Aviva, urges landlords and letting agents to start their own neighbourhood watch – especially for cannabis farms.
Police report the number of cannabis factories uncovered last year reached a new high of 6,800 – which equates to finding almost one farm every hour.
The year before, the number of farms raided was about 3,000.
Almost 1.5 million cannabis plants with an estimated street-value of £150 million were seized from drug farms during the two-year survey period.
Growing cannabis often causes huge damage in a rental property, as the plants need heat and water. To maximise their harvest criminal gangs often divert and overload power supplies, run water to every room that spills over and runs down walls and ceilings and generally leave many properties with repair bills running in to thousands.
Matthew Gordon, underwriting manager at Aviva, said: “As with most insurance policies, the duty of care element means landlords must protect their investment and minimise their losses. It is important to be aware of the warning signs and make sure all ‘reasonable precautions’ are taken.
“Employing a managing or letting agent can be money well spent. They will manage the tenant vetting process and carry out the inspection service on behalf of the landlord.
“Cannabis farming brings many increased risks and insurers could refuse a damage or fire claim, for example, if the landlord has neglected his responsibilities and not thoroughly vetted the tenant.”
If you suspect tenants are growing cannabis in a rental property, from the outside look out for:
Police advise landlords not to tackle drug gangs but to report their suspicions to local detectives.
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