I have recently been provided by Suffolk Police with an excellent guide to spotting and dealing with drug production in rented properties. This is an increasing problem, for example drug producers renting houses for the sole purpose of growing cannabis. This is very bad for the landlords as not only will it affect their reputation, but also considerable damage can be done to their property, plus it will have a very negative effect on the neighbourhood as a whole.
All landlords should read the full document (which you will find here) but here are a few tell tale signs of cannabis production:
- Windows permanently covered from the inside
- Visits to the property at unusual times
- A large number of pots and lights being moved in to set up the ‘factory’
- Tenants not living at the property
- A vent protruding through the roof or a rear window
- A pungent smell coming from the premises
- Large amounts of soil and pots in the back garden
- Noise coming from equipment such as cooling fans
- Shared walls in terraced houses being damp to the touch
The leaflet also gives guidance on how to spot and avoid drug producers as tenants. For example:
- Be very suspicious if you are offered a substantial cash sum ‘up front’ for immediate access – insist on all tenants going through your application process
- Be rigorous in referencing potential tenants and take photo identification
- Be suspicious if tenants ask you not to visit the property, particularly if they ask to meet you to pay rent in cash rather than have you visit the building
Apparently also many drug criminals use a ‘Front Couple’. These people will appear to be a genuine average respectable couple looking to rent a property for their own use. After they have been shown around the property by the landlord and have taken possession of the property, they will disappear without trace. They will then be replaced by members of the drug gang who will convert the property for drug production or cultivation.
The leaflet ends with the following warning:
If you have reason to believe there is an illicit lab on a property and you have been exposed directly, leave immediately, wash your face and hands. Call 999, request the police and report what you observed. If you have reason to believe your exposure has been extensive, contact your doctor. Some of the chemicals involved in creating these drugs are toxic, corrosive and carcinogenic.
You can also ring crime stoppers on 0800 555 111