Buy to let landlords have recently faced a number of issued, from lower rents, to property prices shrinking, and a number of new rules and regulations. There is now a new problem, where buy to let properties have been used to cultivate cannabis.
Police are warning that this problem is becoming more serious.
This cultivation can leave homes ruined in a space of days after cannabis farmers have moved in lighting and other equipment. This can leave wiring in a dangerous condition, walls knocked down, and debris from the farming itself.
There is also impact on communities, where cannabis cultivation has been linked to a range of organised crime.
According to the definition by the Association of Chief Police Officers, a cannabis farm means there are 100 or more plants. For 2007-2008, police raided over 3,000 farms across the country, most of which were buy-to-let homes.
Police warn that cannabis farmers are more likely to pay 12 months of rent upfront as they know they are less likely to have properties inspected. They may also choose locations with fewer passersby.
One landlord discovered her buy-to-let property had been used as a cannabis factory, and she has since spent over £10,000 putting things right. The landlord blames herself for not checking up on the tenants.
There are a number of measures that landlords can take to protect against cannabis farmers, including being wary of tenants who pay cash up front and checking all references. It is important to check on the property regularly, or pay neighbours to do so if this is not possible. If the windows are permanently covered this may also be a sign of a cannabis factory.