In 2007, Norwich Union paid out over substantially over £1 Million pounds in claims for properties that had been severely damaged after being turned into Cannabis farms.
In fact a claim for damages could be as high as £40,000 -£50,000 if the damage to the property is significant, and you may even face the whole bill if you cannot prove to your insurance Company that you have been vigilant enough. Across the UK Police forces are reporting a huge increase in the number of farms being found every week, and it’s no surprise that properties let by slack landlords or agents are being targeted.
The report for the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) reveals there has been a boom in cannabis production across Britain in the last two years, with nearly 7,000 illegal farms and factories uncovered in 2009 and 2010 alone. And it’s rising. Last year almost 750,000 plants were seized with an estimated street value of 85 Million, a 33% rise from the previous year!
The very best fraudsters and criminals are clever and very convincing. They often use ‘fronted’ tenants who appear respectable, and ‘dupe’ you into a false sense of security. They may even pass credit checks carried out by the landlord or agent.
Follow these fishneedwater recommendations to ensure your property isn’t used as a Cannabis farm or any other drug factory, as it’s likely to get badly damaged in the process.
- Firstly, don’t think having buildings or contents insurance guarantees protection against damage. Insurance Companies will expect you to effectively manage your property. If you haven’t visited the property for a prolonged period, can you claim to have effectively been looking after your property?
- Tell your new tenants before you sign your agreement that you intend to complete regular inspections of your property to ensure its being treated adequately. You have the right to do this, and it is likely to ‘put off’ potential Cannabis or drug farmers.
- Be wary of any unusual offers. A drug farmer may offer you more than the average market rental fee for you to not visit your property, or offer to pay the whole tenancy rent amount in one go. Tread with caution if of offered anything even slightly unusual.
- Perform thorough reference check on your potential tenants and ask for previous references (though remember that quite often ‘fronted tenants’ appear normal in order to deceive unsuspecting landlords).
- Actually visit your property, and often. If you are refused entry by the tenant, then question why and act upon it. Look for any unusual signs or smells. Rooms being deadlock or bolted. Unauthorised changes to your property. You MUST report anything unusual to the Police and serve notice immediately if you are able to.