Landlords Fall Victim to Cannabis Factories

Latest Landlord News by: Madalena Penny

Despite warnings, landlords are still leaving themselves vulnerable to criminal     activities undertaken in their properties.

Last summer, we publicized a warning to landlords and letting agents concerning the rise in cannabis cultivation in rented properties adopted by drugs gangs, after Legal 4 Landlords met with Merseyside’s Matrix Unit.

The spiralling increase in factories has risen from 800 factories uncovered in 2006, to over 6,800 in 2009/2010 in the UK – many of these found in rented properties.  Any landlord can fall victim to these activities.  Last month, Deputy Assistant Commissioner at Scotland Yard, Rod Jarman discovered his £400,000 Essex home, which he rented out through a letting agent had been used for growing cannabis.  Mr. Jarmen was further left with £48,000 worth of damage caused by the tenants and an electricity bill of £20,000.

Many landlords have been left with thousands of pounds worth of damage and loss of rental income, then find their insurance doesn’t cover it.

In November last year, Nicholas Pritchard, a letting agent in North Wales was sentenced to three and a half years imprisonment for conspiracy to produce cannabis.  Pritchard used his job at the letting agents to find residential and commercial properties for cannabis cultivation.  Two other people involved were also jailed.

The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, section 4 states that, ‘a landlord or property manager can receive a maximum of 14 years in prison and a fine if they allow the production of controlled drugs to take place in rented accommodation.’

Leading spokesman for the PRS, Sim Sekhon of ‘Legal 4 Landlords’, said: “Landlords need to be aware of a growing criminal culture.  I cannot stress enough the importance of thorough and properly implemented tenant referencing.  It is of relevant significance that landlords ask letting agents which type of reference system they adopt.”

There are a number of tenant reference systems available on the market that letting agents employ.  These vary vastly in methods, from the very basic reference system to ones that incorporate more thorough referencing principles.

Mr. Sekhon further added: “In the last few years, thousands more of these factories have been established due to the progress by cultivators, which have rivalled the Dutch with stronger UK varieties of cannabis.  This has lead to increasing demand of the UK’s produce.

‘The potential for export has resulted in drugs operations targeting residential and commercial properties.  Landlords need to be extra vigilant.”

In England and Wales alone, 20 cannabis factories are found each day by police.  For more information on how to protect your property and free advice about tenant referencing, contact Legal 4 Landlords on 0800 840 7133.

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