Rental properties are sometimes targeted by criminals to use in manufacturing or cultivation of illegal drugs such as amphetamines and cannabis. There is no easy way to ensure this never happens to you but there are a number of things you can do to help reduce the likelihood. These include undertaking all the appropriate tenancy reference checks prior to occupancy, making sure you check your property on a regular basis and being vigilant for potential indicators of drug manufacture. These can include:
- Chemical odours or strong unpleasant or unusual smells like ammonia or a strong smell of air fresheners or de-odourisers. Empty chemical containers or drums not usually associated with normal residential households. Chemistry equipment i.e. flasks, beakers rubber tubing - all the type of items usually found in a laboratory
- An unusually large amount of empty packets/bottles/blister packs for over the counter cold or allergy medicines. The presence of drug taking/dealing paraphernalia such as syringes, small plastic bags etc
- Unnecessary or unusual fortification of interior individual rooms
- Sophisticated weighing scales, industrial/catering mixers, large amount of tin foil, baking soda, electrical extension cords
- Signs of tampering with or rewiring of electric circuitry and an increase in power usage. Powerful lights during the day and night, especially in attics, roof spaces or basements
- Heavy curtained or blackout windows. High humidity levels, condensation on windows, peeling paint and signs of mildew
- Gas cylinders – especially carbon dioxide (CO2)
- An unusual amount of bin bags filled with vegetation, empty plant pots or discarded stalks or roots. These are often discarded after the harvesting of cannabis plants.
If you suspect that your property is being used for this purpose then in the first instance always contact the police. If you believe that you have been exposed directly then leave as quickly as you can and wash your hands and face. Consider taking medical advice as some chemicals used in the manufacturing process can be toxic.
Source Information leaflet from Essex Police and produced by Merseyside Police, Derbyshire Police and the ACPO Drug Standing Working Group.
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