Police warned landlords they could be placing their rental properties at risk after investigators raided nine grow operations seizing marijuana with a street value estimated over $17 million.
The suspects in the case were found to have ties to the Hells Angels, which is believed to have at least 34 chapters throughout Canada, the highest per capita membership worldwide.
According to a news report, Staff Sgt. Tom Hanson with the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams warned that landlords should be especially vigilant, because some of the grow ops were established in rental properties that had to be condemned as a result of damage inflicted by the illegal operations.
Hanson reports that the criminals typically sent families with children or elderly people to pose as prospective renters in order to scam landlords into giving them access to the properties.
The properties suffered extensive mould damage from the high moisture used to grow marijuana. Hanson said the homes’ utility connections and foundations were also compromised by illegal hookups designed to steal water and electricity to feed the operation, according to the report.
He made it clear that landlords should carefully screen prospective tenants. Specifically, he advised landlords to:
Verify the identity of potential tenants,
Check their references, and
Periodically check on the condition of the property.
Hanson added that some of the operations had been in use for a long period of time.
According to the report, authorities were first alerted to the crime syndicate after a fire caused by an illegal electrical hookup destroyed one of the grow ops before police obtained a search warrant.
Earlier this year, a British Columbia court ordered the forfeiture of two apartment buildings valued at nearly $1 million after grow operations were discovered there. In that case, the landlord was found to be at fault because he did not screen tenants, nor did he inspect the properties regularly, which likely would have revealed the illegal operations.
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Disclaimer: The information provided in this post in not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.