Residents of a south Edmonton neighbourhood needed go no further than their noses to suspect something illegal was going on in an area rental property.
When police — who were tipped off by citizen complaints — investigated the rental home, they found a number of tell-tale signs visible from the outside: snow was melting off the siding and roof of the small house much faster than adjacent properties; the windows were blocked; no one appeared to be living there; there was a peculiar odor; and a mysterious hose was channeling water out to the alleyway. Police described these factors as “clear cut” indications of a marijuana grow operation.
Once inside, police found evidence that the operation had produced at least one crop, and had been functioning for two or three months, highlighting the importance of routine rental property inspections for landlords. RCMP recommends inspections should take place at four or five week intervals, based on the time it takes to grow a crop of marijuana.
According to one news report, nearly every room of the small home was affected by the operation. For instance, the main bedroom housed potted marijuana plants, and the basement, retrofitted with grow lights, contained waist-high marijuana, according to the report.
The electrical system had been modified for the sophisticated operation, and the water being pumped out was from a dehumidifier. A significant spike in electricity costs was another factor that brought the property under suspicion.
Police told reporters they suspect the tenants may already be in jail on another matter.
Rental property owners stand to lose significant income over grow operations, which are often targeted at rentals. For instance, the owner will be on the hook for restoring damage, including structural, plumbing and electrical repairs, and may have to pay for specialty clean-up and inspections by city officials if the chemicals or retrofitted systems used for the operation created a danger to the public.
The property value may be hampered. The RCMP maintains a database of properties which have been the scene of grow operations in an attempt to notify new residents of potential dangers which must be rectified before the property is re-rented or sold.
In addition, landlords whose property is used as a grow operation can also face government action for forfeiture of the property. In a recent case in B.C., a landlord lost two of his three apartment buildings to forfeiture after a judge there determined the landlord did not do enough to screen tenants and to oversee his properties.
These consequences make it imperative for landlords to choose tenants carefully, and to conduct a thorough tenant background check on every new tenant.
This post is provided by Tenant Verification Service, Inc., helping landlords reduce the risks of renting with fraud prevention tools that include Tenant Screening, Tenant Background Checks, (U.S. and Canada), as well as Criminal Background Checks, and Eviction Reports (U.S. only).
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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.