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Why landlords need to be vigilant for cannabis farms

17 August 2020 2203 Views
Why landlords need to be vigilant for cannabis farms

As a landlord, it’s vital to conduct periodic inspections throughout each tenancy to ensure that the condition of your rental property is up to standard and your tenants are complying with the tenancy agreement.

This is especially the case as there has been a rise in cannabis farm seizures in residential rental properties across the UK during lockdown.

Cannabis farms have long been a thorny issue for unsuspecting landlords, with their rental properties converted to make them suitable for full-scale cannabis production.

These farms typically involve large scale alterations to the property, including removal of walls and changes to the electricity supply – resulting in tens of thousands of pounds of damage to a landlord’s property.

With cannabis farms still a prominent issue, landlords need to be aware of the potential damages to their buy-to-let property and how the issue can be avoided.

An increasingly frequent problem for landlords

Police forces have reported an increase in the number of raids on cannabis farms, with Nottinghamshire Police witnessing a rise of 280% in cannabis plant seizures during lockdown compared to the same period last year, totalling more than £4 million worth of cannabis plants.

Often, cannabis farmers rip out walls and electricity meters to allow meters to be bypassed. This means they avoid the attention of authorities who may be alerted by unusually high levels of energy and water consumption.

According to landlord insurance brokers, the average claim is close to £40,000, highlighting the importance of landlords carrying out management responsibilities wherever possible.

What do landlords need to do?

In light of this news, landlords are being advised to carefully follow procedure if they suspect illegal use of their property in connection with drugs.

In the case of a standard Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST), landlords can rely upon section 8 of the Housing Act 1998, and serve a notice to terminate the tenancy based on ground 12 (a discretionary ground-based on any breach of the tenancy agreement) or ground 14 (applicable where the tenant is guilty of a nuisance or has been convicted of illegal conduct).

Usually, only two weeks’ notice is required before court action can begin, although this has been temporarily changed to three months as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

In the case of a long residential lease, a clause against ‘illegal or immoral conduct’will likely exist. In these situations, where the owner of a flat is undertaking illegal action at the property, the building owner should make an application to the Residential Property division of the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) for a determination that there has been a breach.

Once that has happened, the landlord should then serve the flat owner with a notice under section 146 of the Law of Property Act 1925, and then begin court proceedings to evict them. 

Preventing cannabis farms

Ultimately, the smartest thing a landlord can do to avoid cannabis farmers is to carry out thorough routine inspections of their tenancies. By doing so, you can monitor a tenant’s living conditions, as well as assess the condition of your rental property.

This, alongside building a rapport with tenants and communicating regularly, can help to maintain a successful and, hopefully long-term, tenancy.

Here at Angels Sales & Lettings, we can guide you through the lettings process and more. For more information on our services in Enfield and Newham, please get in touch with us on 0800 043 6778.

To find out how much you could be charging in rent each month, you can request a free and instant online valuation here.

Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST)

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