Ways to tell if your rental property is being used as a grow house or meth lab

screenshot of grow house video

LANDLORD insurers Terri Scheer have produced a list of things landlords should look for to make sure their properties are not being used to grow or make illicit drugs.

“Tenants involved in cultivating illegal drugs, such as cannabis, methamphetamine and ecstasy, can go to great lengths to hide such activities,” said Terri Scheer Insurance Executive Manager Carolyn Parrella.

Carolyn’s top tips are:

  • It takes three months to cultivate a hydroponics crop so carrying out quarterly inspections will increase the chances of detecting any illegal activity as soon as possible.

  • When conducting an inspection look for signs that the property is being lived in. Illegal drug manufacturers generally do not live at the properties they use to cultivate drugs, therefore the premises may appear under furnished or neglected.
  • Some hydroponic set ups require pipes or hoses to be filtered through the roof or a designated man hole. Look for holes in the ceiling as they could lead to hydroponic systems.
  • It is also a good idea to check whether the meter board has been tampered with or rewired. Holes in nearby walls or built-in cupboards are common in order to feed wires to a power source.
  • Certain items are commonly used to manufacture illegal drugs, including glass flasks, beakers, rubber tubing, gas cylinders, chemical containers, drums, drain cleaner, acid garden fertiliser and cough, cold or allergy medicine
  • Portable air conditioners are also often used when cultivating hydroponic crops. If such items are present at the property and appear inconsistent with practical use, it may indicate the presence of a drug laboratory.
  • Windows that are constantly covered or sealed during the day and night and rooms that are covered in aluminium foil are also common signs that drugs are being manufactured at the property.
  • It’s also a good idea to regularly review water bills for the property. A dramatic spike in water consumption could signal drug manufacturing as more water is generally needed to cultivate drug crops.
  • From an insurance perspective, any damage caused by drug cultivation, such as holes in walls and doors, through to damage to carpets and floor coverings is considered a malicious act, and likely to be viewed as an insured event.
  • If there are intense lights being used as part of a hydroponics set up it may visibly fade paintwork. Look out for colour variations on walls, particularly behind hanging pictures or artwork.
  • Once a tenant has vacated the property, insurance assessors can be sent out to determine the extent of the damage to the property.
  • Many landlord insurance policies stipulate that malicious damage claims must be accompanied by a copy of the police report or the name of the police station where the report was made.

    [Grow house image courtesy AFP]

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