Landlord insurance that won’t pay for cannabis farms

Landlords who have their buy to let homes trashed by drugs gangs growing cannabis can lose thousands because their insurers are likely to invoke a little known escape clause in their policies.

As drugs crime increases, more landlords are falling victim to having their rental properties turned into secret cannabis farms by sly crooks.

Last year, police dealt with almost 16,500 cannabis growing crimes and leading insurers reported claims up 30%.

But what the insurers didn’t say was that claims were up – but the pay outs did not rise at the same pace.

Buried in the small print of many landlord buy to let insurance policies is a get-out-of-jail free card for the insurer that lets them turn down a claim if the damage arising is the result of criminal activity.

That’s bad news for the landlord because, of course, cultivating cannabis on an industrial scale is as a crime.

And farming cannabis in a buy to let can literally destroy the property:

  • Cannabis gangs divert power supplies and overwhelm the electricity installations that can lead to a fire risk.
  • Huge hydroponics installations to water plants and tons of soil and compost can damage joists, floors, walls and ceilings
  • Damp and condensation from the heat and water can lead to mould

David Salusbury, chairman of the National Landlords Association, said: “Once police have cleared a property, the real challenge begins. Landlords must ensure that their insurance covers subsequent damage as many policies are rendered invalid when criminal activity has taken place in a property.

“Landlords can also be criminally liable if they are aware illegal activity is taking place and do not report it to the police.

“Never challenge the tenants. If suspicious, call the police. A false alarm is better than no alarm.”

Tell-tale signs of cannabis gangs are smart tenants paying rent in advance with wads of cash, blacked out windows , condensation and a heavy scent of cannabis coming from the house.

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