Private landlords hit by costly damage from Drug FactoriesMake Text Bigger
Private landlords are facing costly property damage and lost rental income from ‘drug factories’, which are on the increase across the UK, according to the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks (AIIC).
Under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, a landlord or property manager can receive a maximum of 14 years in prison and/or a fine if they allow the production of controlled drugs to take place in rented accommodation. Under this legislation, there is also the potential for premises to be seized or forfeited.
Did you know that landlords can be prosecuted for money laundering offences under the Proceeds of Crime Act. At best for landlords, the cost implication can be huge and it takes time for premises to be cleared and made safe for future tenants. This in turn could result in loss of earnings. The property may even need to be demolished.
Drug factories are found all over the country and are not just the preserve of inner city ghettos. For example, the number of home-grown cannabis farms found by police in Kent has risen by more than 50 per cent in three years. Kent Police said the number of properties where the drug was discovered growing had increased from 180 in 2008-09 to 280 in 2010-11.
Pat Barber, Chair of the AIIC comments: “We are seeing a growing number of properties with severe damage caused by tenants who are growing cannabis. They put large holes in walls for ventilation, rip out internal walls and use rubber pipes to bypass gas meters and connect the electricity to a lamp post outside. Often there is water damage to carpets and floor coverings as a result of tenants using hydroponics to grow cannabis. They use large metal trays with lots of liquid which are placed on the floor.
“We urge landlords and letting agents to look out for warning signs, such as a prospective tenant’s willingness to pay months of rent in advance, or above the going rate, particularly in cash. If tenants refuse to allow you access to the property, that is sign they may have something to hide. Also if a tenant asks to meet you away from the property to pay rent or to discuss anything about the accommodation, it should ring warning bells.”
AIIC has put some guidelines together to help landlords and agents spot if their properties are being used as an amphetamine laboratory or cannabis factory:
- Electrical wiring that has been tampered with
- Booby traps – electrical wiring may be rigged up to door handles
- Strong or unpleasant pungent or chemical smells such as ammonia
- Powerful lights left on in the house throughout the night
- Windows blacked out
- A sudden jump or increase in the cost of electricity bills
- Scuffed paint or wallpaper
- Rewiring efforts or bypassed circuitry
- Large amounts coffee filters, boxes of red matches, stripped battery cases, ephedrine or pseudoephedrine based medicines (cold or allergy medicines)
- Large quantities of bin bags, full of vegetable material, thrown away
- Chemistry equipment such as glass flasks, chemical reactors etc
- Frequent anti-social behaviour at, or near, the address
- Visitors calling during all hours of the day and night
- Drug paraphernalia (such as needles or bin bags full of vegetable matter, etc) left outside the address
The AIIC is a not for profit membership organisation and is committed to excellence and professionalism in the property inventory process. The AIIC works hard to ensure that all landlords, tenants and letting agents understand the importance and benefits of professionally completed property inventories.
Crimestoppers can be contacted anonymously on 0800 555111 or via an online form at www.crimestoppers-uk.org
For further information on AIIC, please visit www.theaiic.co.uk.
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