Landlord sees house 'turned into cannabis farm'

A Sussex businessman has revealed his shock at discovering that his previously pristine four-bedroom property has been used for the cultivation of cannabis.

Damage totalling £70,000 has been caused in just two months and the house has been left uninhabitable, according to local newspaper the Mid Sussex Times.

Stephen Stafford rented out the property for £2,000 a month and suggested that the tenants "seemed fine" when he first met them.

"I normally do a check after three months but they managed to do all this damage in just two months. You can't imagine worse tenants. We had only refurbished it two years ago. I am gutted," he told the press.

It was reported that every room was wrecked, with holes ripped in the walls and ceilings to create room for wires and ventilation ducts.

"I couldn't believe it when I walked in. It looked like something from a Dr Who set with all these silver tubes coming through the ceiling," the landlord added.

However, this is not just a one-off, with the Deposit Protection Service (DPS) claiming that one landlord has discovered that his property was being used as a brothel and several property owners have had their real estate transformed into cannabis factories.

Research by the service recently revealed that tenants in the south-east are more likely to cause damage to a property - with over 40 per cent of DPS disputes between landlords and tenants taking place in that region.

With tenants damaging property, leaving gardens in a state of disarray or simply leaving without giving notice, it makes it more important to have tenancy agreements, rent books and as much documented evidence as possible.

It was found that over half of the disputes in the south-east (52 per cent) were the result of damage to property, while more than a third (36 per cent) could be attributed to the rental property being dirty.

The second-worst area for disputes is the north-east, (15 per cent), followed by the south-west (12 per cent) and north-west (11 per cent), the DPS revealed.

When broken down into cities, London tops the list of tenancy disputes, ahead of Bristol, Manchester, Newcastle upon Tyne and York.

Kevin Firth, director of the DPS, said: "Exasperated landlords have sent us all sorts of complaints about tenants – from vomit on the carpets to carpets vanishing completely."

Meanwhile, in the current economic climate landlords have been urged not to make rash decisions if their property has been vacant for a number of weeks.

Paul Shamplina, founding partner of Landlord Action, says that property owners are bound to worry about the financial implications of an empty property but they should not try to cut corners and get someone in for the sake of it, as they could end up paying for it in the long run by letting to a nightmare tenant.

"Do not be rash. The main thing is to manage it properly," he suggests.

Written by Christopher Evans

Published on: January 30, 2009

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