An expert assessment of the average cost of damage caused by rogue tenants growing cannabis suggests landlords will typically pay almost £10,000.
Direct Line Business Insurance has calculated, using official Police figures, that there were 1,427 suspected cases of illegal drug manufacture or cultivation in 2019 and 2020 in the UK.
Nearly half of investigations into the theft of utilities, where people have tampered with a gas or electricity meter so it doesn’t record the energy usage properly, are suspected to relate to the cultivation or manufacture of illegal drugs.
And there was a 36 per cent increase in suspected cases from 2019 to 2020 - an escalation while lockdown restrictions were in place and the chances of being caught, through being spotted by visitors or passers-by, would have been reduced.
Direct Line says the average insurance claim for repairing a landlord’s property damaged by cannabis cultivation stood at £9,471 in 2020.
The police force with the highest number of investigations into energy theft for the use of drug cultivation in 2020 was West Yorkshire Police, which reported 211 cases. West Midlands Police followed with 136 cases. Lancashire Constabulary reported the next highest number of cases with 110.
Analysis of proprietary insurance claims data also reveals that Birmingham, Solihull, London and Taunton are hotspots for cannabis cultivation in rented properties.
The extent of illegal drug cultivation in England and Wales is highlighted further by data revealing that 130,751 seizures of cannabis occurred between April 2019 and April 2020 - a 21 per cent increase from the previous year.
Overall, one in nine landlords who submitted an insurance claim for malicious damage to their properties last year did so due to the tenant using the property for the illegal cultivation of cannabis.
“Cannabis cultivation can cause thousands of pounds worth of damage to rented properties. Not only can this result in mould and water leakage from the hydroponics and irrigation systems used, but our claims data has revealed police raids causing significant damage to properties, too” explains Jamie Chaplin, landlord product manager at Direct Line Business Insurance.
He continues: “It is essential to conduct proper background checks on tenants, regularly inspect the property inside and out and watch out for suspicious activity such as the tenant asking to pay in cash for months in advance.”
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