Investment Property – How to Spot Tenants That May Want to Use Your Property to Grow Drugs

As a landlord , when you let a property, you hope that your tenants will treat your property with care and respect ensuring that, at the end of their tenancy, they return the property to you in the same condition they found it in when they arrived. You also assume that your tenants will not undertake any kind of illegal activity in the house. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. In the UK there is a growing trend towards rogue tenants renting properties for the purpose of cultivating illegal drugs. Make sure you reduce the risk of becoming a victim of this type of activity by learning how to spot the warning signs of illegal activity.

The equipment and materials required for growing cannabis can be acquired quickly, cheaply and legally by almost anyone. This combined with the attraction of being able to carry out the activity in someone else’s property and at someone else’s expense has made it a relatively simple task for the criminally minded tenant to set up a cannabis factory. Cases are on the increase and this problem has become a major talking point in the world of uk property investment in recent months. However you can mitigate your risk of falling foul of this type of activity by looking out for a few simple clues.

Your vigilance should start at the tenant’s initial viewing of the property. Tenants intending to grow cannabis may show little regard for the practical considerations that would normally concern prospective tenants when viewing a house. Considerations such as identifying a space to accommodate their washing machine and fridge freezer in the kitchen or checking that there are enough sockets in the corner of the lounge where they would want to position their television may seem of no interest to someone viewing the property for the purposes of turning it in to a cannabis factory. Often this type of person will not not even bother to look in all of the bedrooms when viewing a property. This is because they do not intend to use the property to live in, in a normal fashion so such things are of no concern to them.

You should also be wary of tenants who show an unusual interest in the electricity supply at the viewing. If a tenant asks repeated questions about the location of the rcd board, the location at which the supply enters the house, and other aspects of the electrical infrastructure this could be another indicator that they intend to grow cannabis at the property. The reason for this is that cannabis needs a lot of heat and light to grow, meaning that the electricity consumption in the property will increase massively. Invariably the grower will try to tamper with the wiring, by bypassing the electricity meter, as a way to avoid detection. He or she will need to ensure this will be possible before taking the tenancy on.

You should be suspicious of any tenant offering to pay the rent for the entire tenancy upfront and in cash at the start of the tenancy. Cannabis growers will often make such an offer to try to ensure that you do not visit them and disturb their activity, during the course of the tenancy. Also, doing this will mean that you do not have their bank account details, making them more difficult to trace if their activity is discovered.

When a tenancy has started there are other signs to look out for. Cannabis cultivators will obviously try to hide their activity from view and therefore will ensure that curtains remain closed and windows blacked out at all times. If you notice this to be the case during the day time it should arouse your suspicions. Similarly if a light constantly appears to be on behind the curtains at all times of day and night, this could also be a sign that cannabis is being cultivated.

If you spot either of these signs whilst passing the property you should then attempt to contact the tenant to arrange a property inspection. You only need give 24 hours notice of your desire to inspect the property. If the tenant ignores your attempts to make contact or tries to avoid an inspection taking place, this indicates that they do not want you to see the inside of the property and should arouse you suspicions further.

In such cases you may wish to examine the rubbish being thrown out of the property for further evidence. Large quantities of plant waste and an unusual odour provide more reason to be suspicious.

Following these tips should ensure that your UK property investment is not an easy target for cannabis growers. However, if you have reason to suspect that cannabis is being grown in one of you investment properties, you should contact the police immediately and ask them to investigate.