Costs to landlords soar from increase in drugs production

No private landlord wants to knowingly rent out a property to tenants producing drugs – that comes with a maximum of 14 years in prison and/or a fine. However, an increase in the number of rented properties being used for drug production without a landlord’s knowledge is on the increase. And the result could be soaring costs when the problem is discovered.

The number of home-grown cannabis farms, for example, is on the rise and statistics from Kent police are typical. It was found by police in Kent that the number of home drug factories has risen by more than 50 per cent in three years. They said that the number of properties where cannabis was discovered growing had increased from 180 in 2008-09 to 280 in 2010-11.

A landlord can also be prosecuted for money laundering offences under the Proceeds of Crime Act, but the cost to a property owner may not just be a legal one. There are real financial implications to a landlord when a rental property is turned into a drugs factory.

There is the cost of clearing the property and making it habitable for new tenants, for example. There is also the cost of repairing damage – tenants 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.

Private landlords are advised to look out for warning signs at their properties – smells, blacked out windows and visitors at unusual times – are good things to look out for. Landlords should also protect themselves with the appropriate insurances.