Around 200 cannabis
factories have been closed down by police in this county, and the
majority of these have been in residential houses.
They have been let by unsuspecting landlords and letting agents
to well organised gangs of cannabis growers with links to major
By the time the police are involved, the property has typically
suffered thousands of pounds of damage. Cannabis plants need heat
and humidity to produce a good crop, so to help the hundreds of
plants reach maturity fast, the growers rig up sophisticated
hydroponic systems in every room of the house.
To provide the 24 hour water and lighting required, pipes, ducts
and electric cables are run through holes drilled through your
ceilings and heavy duty insulation fixed to the walls. Windows will
be sealed up and the large amount of condensation resulting from
the process will ruin whatever the growers have left intact.
To avoid arousing the suspicion of the electricity companies,
growers also bypass the electric meter to tap straight into the
main grid. Running huge amounts of unregulated electricity through
a residential property system is highly dangerous and can result in
fires and sometimes police find electrical booby traps attached to
entrance points which can deliver enough power to kill a
Much more rarely,
gangs may use a house to produce other drugs in powder or tablet
form, or use it as a "safe house"to prepare, bag and store drugs
The good news is that you can avoid letting your house to these
gangs. A 16 page booklet with comprehensive information is
available free of charge and you can download it here.
In the meantime, if you're letting your house follow these
Before you let
- Meet the prospective tenants and be aware growers often send
apparently respectable couples to meet the landlord as a cover.
Later they will disappear without trace. Make sure you get photo ID
from these people, check previous references and go round a couple
of weeks after they've moved in to make sure they are genuinely
- Be very suspicious if you are offered six months rent up front
- Make sure your property has outside lighting; and cut back
overhanging or high vegetation which will discourage growers as
they like their activities to be hidden
After you let
- Keep your neighbours informed and get them to report anything
suspicious to you or your letting agent.
- Visit the property regularly, or ensure your letting agent is
doing so. Excuses from tenants or agents as to why this is not
possible should arouse your suspicion.
- Check the loft too
Look out for
- Windows always closed in summer and curtains are permanently
- Excessive condensation at windows
- Pungent or chemical smells
- Large amounts of compost, plant pots, chemicals or fertiliser
(or empty containers) stored
- Neighbours reporting many frequent different visitors to the
property OR no apparent movement of tenants at all
- Excessive security measures added to property such as bars at
the windows or reinforced doors
- Lookouts - usually young/teenagers hanging about outside to
warn the users of potential trouble
If you suspect anything
Call the police as soon as you can. If you live near a rental
property and you notice any of these signs you can call the police
too. Just get in touch with your local station.