The number of Cannabis farms in the UK more than doubled from the 3,032 farms discovered in 2007/08 to 7,865 farms discovered in 2011/12, according to an Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) report released back in April. The report also said that the trend of farms moving more into large commercial units from using rented residential properties was also reversing back towards residential properties, which is of course a worrying sign for landlords.
Other key findings of the report were:
- Over 1.1 million plants with an estimated street value of £207 million were recovered during the two-year survey period.
- The number of cannabis production offences continues to rise with 16,464 offences projected for 2011/12 up from 14,982 offences recorded in 2010/11.
- Cannabis remains the most commonly used illegal drug in the UK and is the most prevalent drug seized by law enforcement agencies.
Areas with the highest number of Cannabis farms per 100,000 people:
- South Yorkshire = 64
- West Yorkshire = 42
- Avon and Somerset = 40
- Merseyside = 30
- Lancashire = 29
- West Midlands = 25
- Northamptonshire = 24
- Staffordshire = 20
- Cheshire = 19
- Nottinghamshire = 19
How to Spray Your Portfolio with "Weed Killer"
Thankfully there are ways to minimise the chances that the tenants you are putting in your properties will rig the electrics to power massive lights, rip out all the upstairs floors to allow the extractor to run up through the house and out the roof via the loft, and start a cannabis farm in your 2 bed semi.
Thoroughly Vet Tenants
- Photographic ID is a must, either driving licence or passport.
- If passport: study it carefully to make sure the name, age, signature and date of birth all tally with the prospective tenant.
- Take copies of the front and rear of the passport, as well as the relevant details page.
- If photo driving license: invest in a cheap ultraviolet light and scan it over the card to help spot forgeries. You should see various images as a watermark.
- Again take photocopies of the front and rear for your files
- If they have one, take a copy of their NHS card
- Take 3 months bank statements or utility bills (not mobile phone) pertaining to their current address and the last 3 years addresses. Click here for a free identity check list.
- If you are in any doubt about the authenticity of any of the documents, either don't rent to the person (ok in today's market) or take the documents to your local police station, they should be able to tell you if there are any forgeries. After all, they don't want a cannabis farm in your property any more than you do.
It used to be that you would visit each property at least once a month when collecting rent, but nowadays, thanks to online and telephone banking, this is no longer the norm, and in any case those who set up cannabis farms usually pay 6 months in advance. Yes, this is a sign to look out for, but you can't exactly turn down every tenant who offers to pay more than one month in advance. What you can do is pay a visit to the property at least once per month. This can be in the contract that the tenant signs, or it can be a verbal agreement. You should stipulate that your visits will not be unannounced, but that you will write and call in advance. This eradicates any suspicion of voyeurism etc, and with that stipulation most decent tenants won't have any problems with it – anyone who does probably has indecent intentions for your property.
Hire a Good Letting Agent
Thanks to the digital age tenant vetting is becoming easier and easier, as well as more thorough. A good letting agent will be staying up to date with the latest and greatest tenant vetting procedures, and will also be spending money on the kinds of websites that provide confidential information like credit checks etc. This will save you time and money vetting tenants yourself, and if you are sure you have chosen a good letting agent, you will also get peace of mind.
Another wonder of the digital age is forums, you can easily find out which lettings agents in your area are worth their salt by asking on online forums.
You can also agree with the letting agent that you want your property or properties visited regularly.
- Wednesday 22 August 2012