Landlords urged to grass up cannabis farms

Police want to recruit help from landlords and letting agents to crack down on the growing number of cannabis farms in rented homes.

Criminal gangs split their resources among several rental properties and employ live-in ‘gardeners’ to keep an eye on their crops, say police.

This means a single raid only wipes out one cell of a much bigger drug growing operation.

Gangs target buy to lets – and the tell-tale signs are often Asian tenants paying advance rents in cash.

Once in the properties, they install hydroponics systems for growing their crops that can severely damage the home by diverting water and electricity supplies.

Sussex police are the latest force to call on landlords and letting agents to help them catch drugs gangs.

Detectives have written a special briefing “Keeping Illegal Drugs Out Of Rental Properties – A Guide For Property Managers” which is available for landlords throughout Sussex – as well as Hampshire, Nottingham and Gwent.

Detective Chief Inspector Ali Eaton said: “There has recently been a noticeable increase in local cannabis cultivation especially, and amphetamine illicit drug production, in rented properties, and particularly a move from industrial or commercial sites to smaller residential properties, in Sussex and across the country.

“Our guidance is aimed at increasing knowledge and highlighting the signs of drug production for private landlords who may be unaware of the risks and dangers to the community.”

The best way of checking whether tenants are using or growing drugs is to regularly inspect the

“The key point to remember is that if you tolerate criminal activity you are guilty of a criminal offence. And if you take rent you are seen as benefitting from the proceeds of crime, which means the police or Crown Prosecution Service can recover costs from you.” said Niteji Davda, associate at law firm Cripps Harries Hall.

Meanwhile, landlord Tahir Kahn, of Burnley, was given two years suspended imprisonment and ordered to carry out 300 hours of community service.

Khan found 100 cannabis plants worth about £27,000 in one of his rental properties – but allowed the tenant to stay on. Police raided the premises and the landlord was arrested for aiding the cultivation of cannabis.

Landlords who detect tenants breaking the law can reclaim their property under a special clause in most tenancy agreements covering ‘illegal or immoral’ use of the home.