Landlords and agents are being warned to remain vigilant as new figures reveal the extent of cannabis cultivation in the UK.
Direct Line for Business has analysed figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) which show that the police seized over 400,000 plants in the UK last year.
The most seizures were made by the Metropolitan police (59,002), followed by police in Wiltshire, the West Midlands, South Yorkshire, Dyfed-Powys and Nottinghamshire
Direct Line says that the number of seizures dropped by 10 per cent between 2013 and 2014 but that a third of police forces have reported an increase in the number of cannabis plants identified.
The insurer has reiterated a warning to landlords that they should vet their tenants carefully as cannabis farms can cause significant damage to their properties.
It says that damage caused by cannabis production can include damaged ceilings and wells, severe water damage and fires.
In addition to the financial costs, landlords are also warned that they could face legal action if it is proved that they were aware of these criminal activities or have benefitted from them financially.
“Landlords should remain vigilant and investigate unusual tenant behaviour. In addition to carrying out rigorous tenant checks and regular inspections, landlords should be aware of odd smells, sudden fluctuations in energy bills and evidence that the electrical wires have been tampered with,” says Jane Guaschi, Business Manager at Direct Line for Business.
“If as a landlord you suspect your property is being used as a cannabis farm, contact your local police straight away. Do not confront your tenants yourself,” she adds.