Warning for landlords

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Landlords can be left with big damage bills if their rental homes are used as cannabis grow-houses.

YANCHEP and Gingin landlords are being advised to be extra vigilant when renting their properties to avoid crime gangs who turn investment homes into cannabis grow-houses.

Consumer Protection and WA Police have renewed their warning to landlords after a Joondalup rental property was recently turned into a cannabis farm.

The landlord, who advertised the property privately, leased it to a Vietnamese couple in their late 30s in September last year for a two-year period.

The property was inspected in January this year but there were no signs of the cannabis farm at that stage, although some electrical problems were reported.

The illegal cannabis growing operation was uncovered recently after a Police raid on the property.

Consumer Protection commissioner David Hillyard said crime gangs were targeting private landlords who were less likely to carry out stringent checks on prospective tenants and less likely to be suspicious of a large upfront cash payment to cover rent.

“The driver’s licences being presented as identification are stolen or fake and references supplied by these applicants are usually other gang members posing as employers or previous landlords,” he said.

“If landlords choose not to go through a real estate agent or property manager, they need to do thorough checks on applicants and carry out a property inspection soon after they move in and at regular intervals up to the maximum of four inspections a year that are allowed.

“Apart from the damage and clean-up bills, affected landlords also suffer the loss of rental income while the home is being repaired, so it can have a devastating financial impact.

“The cannabis farm operations at these rentals usually involve the electricity being by-passed from the meter and a new electrical system installed to power the hydroponics.

“Combined with a watering system, the danger to occupants as well as neighbours and the community is significant, posing a major fire and electrocution hazard.”

WA Police advise landlords and members of the public to be cautious of cash rentals that are paid several months in advance, a big number of people frequently coming to the house for two to three hours at a time, humming or bright lights coming from the house at night, windows being constantly covered and evidence of tampering with power or meter boxes.

Anyone who believes a property is being used for illegal purposes or has any information regarding illegal activity, should call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or make a report online at www.crimestopperswa.com.au

Callers can remain anonymous.

Enquiries about what landlords can do under tenancy laws can be made to Consumer Protection by email consumer@dmirs.wa.gov.au or by calling 1300 30 40 54.