This is the highest level since it started recording the data in 2007. Nationally there were 643,510 cannabis plants seized in 2008/9 and this increased by 18% to 758,700 in 2009/102. 83% of seizures by the police last year were for 50 plants or fewer.
Matthew Gordon, underwriting manager – property owners – at Aviva, said: “Despite the upgrade of cannabis to a class B drug two years ago the industry continues to grow. We settled 92 cannabis farming claims last year, which is the highest number Aviva has ever recorded.
“Almost all of the properties were residential and we often find that it is part of a larger operation or that the policyholder has had a couple of properties affected. Cannabis farming comes with serious risks for landlords; properties can be completely ruined inside to make space for plants, water damage can occur and fire poses a risk due to interference with electrics or strong lighting left on for a long time.
“Property owners must be vigilant and there are some simple steps that can be taken. We would advise thorough checks on tenants and regular visits to properties – both internal and external inspections. Permanently closed curtains, blacked out windows and strong smells are all signs that there may be a cannabis factory on your premises.”
Aviva is working with customers and brokers to raise awareness of the issues of tenants using domestic dwellings as cannabis farms, ensuring landlords have the right level of cover in place, rather than standard home insurance.
Gordon continued: “It’s important that property owners have adequate insurance and that they take ‘reasonable precautions’ to prevent any damage occurring. Employing a letting agent to manage the tenant-vetting process and provide an inspection service on the landlord’s behalf is a good option as insurers could refuse a claim if a landlord has been found to neglect their responsibilities.”