Surprise visits by surveyors to value buy to let homes are uncovering secret cannabis factories, according to one firm of valuers.
Gangs renting homes as a cover for farming the drug are a growing menace for landlords, says Richard Sexton of surveyor’s e-surv.
The firm reckons surveyors are coming across at least one factory a month – and the trend is increasing.
Police also report the number of raids on cannabis farms is at a new high.
Within the past few days, cannabis farms in rented homes have been discovered in a number of towns and cities.
- In Chorley, Lancashire, police report finding 45 cannabis farms during the past two years
- A houses in Levenshulme , Manchester, was badly damaged by a fire sparked by faulty wiring at a cannabis farm
- Detectives say on average, they seize a cannabis plant every minute.
- Greater Manchester Police found more than 50,000 cannabis plants in raids on homes and industrial premises last year.
- Police carry out drugs raids at 17 homes every hour across the UK to seize cannabis
“As the buy-to-let market continues to recover landlords are increasingly keen to remortgage their properties so that they can expand their portfolios. This often means that the tenants are not aware a surveyor will be turning up at their home and are caught unawares,” said Sexton.
Surveyors say they often suspect illegal cannabis farms when tenants fail to give them access to lofts or other parts of the property.
Many valuation firms have a protocol of reporting their suspicions to landlords and police.
The Association of Residential letting Agents (ARLA) explained tenants offering rent as cash in advance for several months is often a sign of an intention of illegal activity.
Other tell-tale signs are condensation on windows, the strong smell of cannabis or cleaning products trying to disguise the odour and tampering with wiring.