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Don’t let your property investments go to pot

Landlords are being reminded to remain attentive when viewing or inspecting rental homes in order to weed out tenants that may be growing cannabis in their investment properties, after a new report revealed that the number of cannabis seizures in rented homes increased across some parts of England and Wales last year. 

New analysis from landlord insurer, Direct Line for Business, reveals that police seized 366,841 plants across England and Wales over 2014/15, reflecting a rise in home-based cannabis cultivation in some regions.

Police raids resulted in no fewer than 54,700 plants being seized in the West Midlands last year, which was more than any other region. Greater Manchester had the second worst record with Greater Manchester Police confiscating 41,569 plants.

The greatest increase in seizures was posted by Suffolk Constabulary, which seized 4,616 cannabis plants over 2014/15 – nearly seven times more than in 2013/14. But the figures show that overall seizures of cannabis plants across England and Wales fell by 20% last year, indicating that local police forces have hit a milestone in winning the battle against cannabis farms.

Nick Breton, head of Direct Line for Business, said: “For landlords, engaging in a tenancy agreement with a tenant always requires a certain amount of trust that they will not cause significant damage to the property. However, as this analysis shows, cannabis farming is still a big problem in England and Wales and can have severe repercussions for landlords.”

On a regional level, the West Midlands saw the highest number of cannabis plant seizures, with nearly 70,000 throughout the course of the 2014/2015 financial year. This works out at around 191 seizures every day, or 5,045 cannabis plants seized for every million households in the region.

Wales recorded the second highest number of cannabis plant seizures per million households, with 3,900, followed by the East Midlands (3,872) and the North East (3,341).

Direct Line for Business warns that landlords should be wary of who they are renting to as cannabis farms can cause significant damage to properties for which they may not be aware or insured for, while landlords could also face legal action themselves if it is proved that they were aware of criminal activities or have received money or proceeds from illegal drug activity.

Some 9% of claims made for malicious damage on a property with a tenant between 2014 and 2015 were in relation to cannabis cultivation, according to analysis of claims data by Direct Line for Business.

Breton added: “The cost of cleaning up a cannabis farm can be as big a financial headache as it is a practical one – not to mention the stress of loss of income during periods of repair. It is therefore imperative that landlords do the right background checks and reference their new tenants thoroughly. Don’t be tempted to accept cash offers of rent months in advance either as this may be a sign that the applicant is intending to use the property for criminal activity. Making sure you have the right insurance in place can also offer further peace of mind.”

Total number of cannabis plants seized by police in England and Wales

Region

Cannabis plant seizures, 2014/15

Change,

2014 – 2015

Cannabis plant seizures per household, 2014/15

West Midlands

69,803

-4%

5,045

Wales

29,204

-14%

3,900

East Midlands

42,972

4%

3,827

North East

21,183

-12%

3,341

North West

48,503

10%

2,808

Yorkshire and the Humber

32,445

-28%

2,500

East of England

35,565

-15%

2,441

London

38,369

-35%

1,856

South West

19,358

-53%

1,474

South East

26,702

-48%

1,243

Total England and Wales

366,841

-20%

2,508

Source: Direct Line for Business

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