published by Alan Boswell Group
Cannabis farming in residential properties is on the increase across the country with an average of more than 21 cannabis factories being found daily in Britain last year.
The number of uncovered farms increased to 7,865, a figure that has more than doubled in the past four years, putting the UK at significant risk from criminal gangs who are cultivating cannabis on a commercial scale.
Damage to property
In 2010, Aviva received 92 cannabis claims by distraught landlords compared to 71 in the previous year.
The insurance giant refused to disclose the cost of the claims, but added that the damage included ripped floorboards, and holes in the ceilings and walls to support 24-hour lighting apparatus and fans required to operate the farms.
Haul worth £100 million
According to a report by Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo), police officers confiscated marijuana last year with a street value of £100 million.
Commander Allan Gibson of the Metropolitan Police, Acpo's lead on cannabis cultivation, said: "Increasing numbers of organised crime groups are diverting into this area of criminality, but we are determined to continue to disrupt such networks and reduce the harm caused by drugs."
Flood and fire
Rented properties that have fallen prey to cannabis farming suffer serious water damage from the hydroponic installations and fire outbreaks that occur as a result of faulty wiring or overheating.
Farms are usually left unmanned, so if fires break out in the middle of the night, they will have caused serious irreparable damage by the morning, if not setting the whole premises ablaze.
Shift to residential property
The increase in residential farms comes as a result of a shift from commercial and industrial properties to ‘multiple site' small scale factories - usually residential properties let out by unsuspecting landlords and agents.
Gangs are targeting privately-owned properties to reduce detection and financial losses by funding many ‘gardeners' to manage the farms in residential areas.
Advice for landlords
If you are a landlord and concerned your property is possibly being used to farm cannabis, you may notice a sweet and pungent smell outside the property, higher electricity bills, unusual levels of heat in the premises, blacked-out windows and industrial air vents.
It is crucial that you thoroughly vet any prospective tenants via a referencing service that will detail the tenant's references, employment details, previous landlords as well as rental history.
Beware of any tenants who offer to pay the deposit or rent in cash, or those wishing to pay a considerable higher monthly rental than the property's rental market value, as tempting as it may seem. The offer to pay upfront in cash may be luring, but the cost of the effects of cannabis farming will be much higher.
If you need further advice, please contact the Alan Boswell Group on 01603 216399 or e-mail on firstname.lastname@example.org.