Drugs farm are a growing menace for landlords as last year saw police seize a record 758,000 plants in raids mainly on buy to let homes – up 18% on the previous year’s total.
Home insurance giant Aviva is warning that they won’t pay out on claims if landlords fail to take ‘reasonable steps’ to look after their properties after settling a record 92 claims in the past year.
“Employing a letting agent to manage the tenant-vetting process and provide an inspection service on the landlord’s behalf is a good option as insurers could refuse a claim if a landlord has been found to neglect their responsibilities,” said Aviva’s Matthew Gordon.
Police and insurance firms have also put out a checklist so landlords and neighbours can more easily spot cannabis farms.
The tell-tale signs include:
- A pungent smell coming from the home
- Walls and ceilings lined with plastic to maintain warmth and trap condensation
- Blinds and curtains closed all the time
- Several horticultural sprays used for watering left lying around
- Bright lighting on 24/7
- Electric meter tampering to cut the costs of supply
“Almost all of the properties involved in claims were residential and we often find that it is part of a larger operation or that the policyholder has had a couple of properties affected,” said Mr Gordon.
“Cannabis farming comes with serious risks for landlords; properties can be completely ruined inside to make space for plants, water damage can occur and fire poses a risk due to interference with electrics or strong lighting left on for a long time.
“Property owners must be vigilant and there are some simple steps that can be taken. We would advise thorough checks on tenants and regular visits to properties – both internal and external inspections. Permanently closed curtains, blacked out windows and strong smells are all signs that there may be a cannabis factory on your premises.”