Categories: Property Management

Illegal Cultivation of Drugs – Are you Covered?

Unfortunately not all insurance policies cover damage caused by the cultivation of illegal drugs. Something that is easy to overlook. The cultivation of drugs has become a hot topic over the last few years. A number of landlords have lost out when claiming as they have found they do not have sufficient cover in place. The nature of the damage can range.

Below are examples of the types of damage or alterations caused by cultivating illegal drugs:

  • Extensive water damage and condensation from irrigation systems and strong lighting
  • Damage from the use of plastic and polythene linings of walls
  • Sealing of doors and windows
  • Installation of ducting and extractor fans
  • Damage to electricity supplies following tampering by the tenant to accommodate high power lighting

The cost of returning the property to a habitable and rentable condition can be horrendous.

The Facts

Some surprising facts around drugs in the UK:

  • Police seized over 300,000 cannabis plants in England and Wales in 2017
  • A third of all investigations into the theft of electricity since 2016 relate to the cultivation of illegal drugs
  • Cannabis-related claims for landlords almost doubled since 2015 for landlords

Cannabis cultivation remains prolific across the country. A cause for concern for landlords as their properties may be being used for illegal activities. The last thing that a landlord wants is to find out that tenants were using their property to grow drugs. Landlords could face a potential police investigation. More likely though is that there will be significant damage to the property that will need fixing before letting the property out again. It can cost thousands to repair the damage caused by cannabis growers. Buildings are often riddled with damp and require extensive repairs.

It is important therefore that landlords carry out inspections every three months. The landlord doesn’t have to carry these out themselves, a letting or managing agent can do it for them. Letting agents often carry out inspections every three months on their properties.

What to look out for

When carrying out an inspection you may see signs of the property being used for cultivation of cannabis.

Things to look out for are:

  • The smell – cannabis has a distinctive smell that is likely to be apparent when entering the property
  • Noise levels – growers are likely to install extractor fans to ventilate and you may hear this from outside or inspecting the property
  • Cabling – there may be cabling outside the property to illegally extract energy from street lights or neighbouring properties
  • Blackouts – windows may be obscured to prevent people from seeing in
  • Barriers – Installing bars to doors and windows
  • Heat – watch out for high levels of heat and condensation

It is the landlords’ responsibility to ensure that he has inspected the property on a regular basis with evidence of the inspections. The evidence is vital as it will be necessary to prove the inspections in the case of a claim including the dates and times of the inspections. Please read our separate article regarding landlord responsibilities here.

It is important to check your policy documents to ensure that the policy does cover damage from the illegal cultivation of drugs. Not every policy will cover this scenario. Please don’t hesitate to contact us for a quote. Our quote documents will state whether this cover is included.


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