It may seem like something out of hugely popular American crime drama Breaking Bad, but one insurance expert believes rental properties can be easily targeted by criminals looking to manufacture drugs.
Illegal drug manufacturing can cause considerable damage to rental properties and cost landlords thousands of dollars in repairs and subsequent lost rent, according to landlord insurance specialist Terri Scheer.
"Temporary drug laboratories in rental properties can be difficult to detect if you do not know what to look out for,” said executive manager Carolyn Parrella, adding that tenants involved in cultivating illegal drugs, such as cannabis, methamphetamine and ecstasy, can go to great lengths to hide such activities.
Ms Parrella said that carrying out regular property inspections will increase the chances of detecting any illegal activity, assist landlords to lodge insurance claims as soon as possible, and potentially mitigate loss.
"It takes three months to cultivate a hydroponics crop, so carrying out quarterly inspections will increase the chances of detecting any illegal activity as soon as possible,” she said. "When conducting an inspection, look for signs the property is being lived in. Illegal drug manufacturers generally do not live at the properties they use to cultivate drugs, therefore the premises may appear under-furnished or neglected.”
Ms Parrella also said some hydroponic systems or temporary drug laboratories require specific modifications to the property.
“Check for potential tampering of the property. Some hydroponic set-ups require pipes or hoses to be filtered through the roof or a designated man hole. Look for holes in the ceiling because they could lead to hydroponic systems,” she said, adding that you should also keep an eye out for unusual items and activity.
"Certain items are commonly used to manufacture illegal drugs, including glass flasks, beakers, rubber tubing, gas cylinders, chemical containers, drums, drain cleaner, acid garden fertiliser and cough, cold or allergy medicine,” Ms Parrella said.