This week saw amendments to the Antisocial Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014 come into effect. Police officers now have enhanced powers to take action against rogue landlords, tenants and residents, and can close down properties where drugs are being grown or dealt.
Humberside Police has already used the new legislation to apply for the closure of a suspected drug-dealing hub in Cleethorpes.
According to the Grimsby Telegraph police will present evidence to a district judge at Grimsby Magistrates’ Court this week highlighting the number of calls police have made to the property in Daubney Street, Cleethorpes.
Officers have gathered 56 items of intelligence about the property over the past six months, mostly relating to suspected drug dealing.
Humberside Police Inspector Mel Christie said the property is owned by a private landlord who he claimed has “refused to engage with Humberside Police”.
However, many other landlords will be keen to work with police to prevent drugs, normally cannabis, being grown in their properties.
Karl Knipe, of both Metropolis Surveyors and Kings Lettings, says drugs in rental properties are an ongoing problem – but there are a number of precautions landlords can take to lessen the chances of being affected.
“Landlords need to use an agent who will carry out regular inspections while self-managing landlords should inspect the property themselves. Make sure the tenant is referenced and you have rent guarantee insurance,” he said.
“One thing landlords should be wary of is if they issue a tenant an inspection notice and the tenant won’t agree a date. Ideally we’d have a national register of bad tenants – who are involved in drugs on don’t pay the rent – but that’s not allowed.”
Other tips from the National Landlords Association (NLA) include being wary of tenants who offer six months’ rent up front – it could be a sign the tenant wants to be left alone to engage in illegal activity.
Landlords should also look out for a strong smell of air fresheners to disguise the smell of drug production, a sudden jump or fall in electricity bills, high humidity in the property and evidence of possible rewiring.
A report in The Daily Telegraph told of a landlord whose property suffered £56,000 worth of damage due to tenants growing drugs – only to then find out he wasn’t insured.
The couple in Devon let their house while working abroad but after two years the tenants stopped paying the rent. After the landlord evicted them he discovered the house had been used to grow cannabis and the high levels of heat and humidity had caused extensive damage. However, he wasn’t insured as he only had standard, not specialist landlord, home insurance.
The case acts as a stark reminder for landlords to have the correct cover and be aware of any policy exclusions.