The problem of cannabis ‘farmers’ using privately rented properties to mass-produce the drug is at its worst in the West Midlands, according to new research.
Data produced for Direct Line for Business has revealed West Midlands Police as seizing more than 54,700 plants in 2014/2015 - the highest figure across all the police forces in England and Wales.
Greater Manchester Police recorded the second highest volume, while the biggest year-on-year increase in seizures was in Suffolk. This is despite an over 20 per cent decrease in seizures across the country as a whole in the year under review.
“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, cannabis farming is still a big problem in England and Wales and can have severe repercussions for landlords” according to Nick Breton, head of Direct Line for Business.
The firm says agents and landlords should be wary of prospective tenants who can cause significant damage to properties; it says it has seen claims for ceilings and walls knocked through, severe water damage and fires costing thousands of pounds caused by cannabis farming tenants.
Analysis of claims data by Direct Line for Business reveals that one in 11 of all claims made for malicious damage on a property with a tenant between 2014 and 2015 were in relation to cannabis cultivation. The average value of a claim where cannabis is a contributing factor is 59 per cent higher than the average claim.
The firm says tell-tale signs of cannabis cultivation in a property include windows blacked out by bin bags or heavy fabric - often disguised by nets or blinds - plus heavy use of ventilation, highs levels of heat and condensation, and a high volume of vegetable material being thrown away.