Landlords hit hard as cannabis cultivation increases by a third in lockdown

Cannabis cultivation has grown by a third during lockdown and is hitting landlords hard in the pocket, The Yorkshire Post can reveal.

There were 1,427 suspected cases of illegal drug manufacture or cultivation in 2019 and 2020 in the UK - equating to two police cases being opened every single day, while the average insurance claim for repairing a landlord's property damaged as a result of the drug activity stood at £9,741, figures from Direct Line show.

Nearly half (48 per cent) of police investigations into the theft of electricity, where people have tampered with a gas or electricity meter so it doesn’t record the energy usage properly, are suspected to relate to the cultivation or manufacture of illegal drugs.

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There was a 36 per cent increase in suspected cases from 2019 to 2020, an escalation while lockdown restrictions were in place and the chances of being caught - through being spotted by visitors or passers-by - would have been reduced.

A cannabis grow discovered by police in South Yorkshire.

West Yorkshire Police had the highest number of investigations into energy theft for the use of drug cultivation in 2020 with 211 reported cases. West Midlands Police followed with 136 cases. Lancashire Constabulary reported the next highest number of cases with 110.

Jamie Chaplin, landlord product manager, Direct Line business insurance, said: "The cultivation of illegal drugs by tenants in rented properties is an ongoing and real concern for landlords across the UK. Sadly, landlords can unknowingly become victims of criminals who abuse and neglect their properties.

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The extent of illegal drug cultivation in England and Wales is highlighted further by data revealing that 130,751 seizures of cannabis occurred between April 2019 and April 2020, equating to 358 incidents every day - a 21 per cent increase from the previous year. Within this time period cannabis was the most commonly seized drug in England and Wales - involved in 71 per cent of all drug seizures.

The Yorkshire Post previously revealed how criminals are using fake passports to rent properties across Yorkshire and turning them into cannabis factories with growing concerns that more people are turning to drug crime to make money during lockdown.

A Cannabis Aware Scheme, launched by South Yorkshire Police and targeting landlords and property agents, was implemented in a bid to deter those looking to let properties to grow cannabis, as well as help detect those that are cultivating the drug in existing lettings.