Landlords are being urged to carry out regular checks on their properties if they suspect tenants are hosting cannabis farms following a nationwide boom in the illegal industry over lockdown.
Police forces say the last few months have seen a proliferation of cannabis farms being created, with increased numbers of raids as a result.
West Leicester police report closing down at least one cannabis set-up every week, while Nottinghamshire Police have seen a rise of 280% in cannabis plant seizures during lockdown compared to the same period last year.
Nationally, police say more than 90% of cannabis farms are set up in residential properties, with rental homes particularly attractive as there’s no paper-trail – the properties can’t be connected to the gangs running the operations.
Leicester police are appealing directly to landlords and agents who suspect foul play to look in on their homes, at least from the outside, every three months – about the time it takes for a cannabis plant to provide a yield – which they believe would deliver a significant blow to the illegal trade and deter others from setting up in the area.
Law firm Hägen Wolf suggests that landlords, and any helpful neighbours, should keep a detailed log of conduct such as night-time visitors, strange noises, or any funny smells, which might indicate that illegal activity is taking place, and ideally supported by photographs and videos.
Solicitor Philip Copley adds: “If it is safe and possible to report the matter to the council or police, then do so – that can create a paper trail which strengthens the landlord’s case.”
The tell-tales signs of a cannabis factory include excessive fortification, silver duct tape hanging out of windows, blacked-out windows or windows with condensation, peeling wallpaper or mildewed walls, a pungent smell or sudden fluctuations in electricity bills.