A number of telltale items can help property managers uncover illegal drug laboratories operating in their rental properties, a specialist landlord insurer has claimed.
“Tenants involved in illicit drug manufacture can go to great lengths to hide such activities from property managers and may abscond before their lease is up for renewal, so they can be difficult to detect if you do not know what to look out for,” Terri Scheer insurance manager, Carolyn Majda, said.
Yet Ms Majda offered a number of tips to help identify the presence of drug laboratories at rental properties.
“It takes three months to cultivate a hydroponics crop, so conducting quarterly property inspections will increase the chances of detecting any illegal activity as soon as possible,” she said.
“While conducting inspections, look out for signs that the property is being lived in. Illegal drug manufacturers generally do not live at the properties they use to cultivate crops.
“Intense lights used in hydroponics can visibly fade paintwork, so look behind hanging pictures for signs of colour variations on walls. “Chemical waste is commonly disposed of down the drain, so ensure there are no blockages in the plumbing system and that the pipes are in good working order.
She added that various items can help you identify if a drug lab is present.
“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 Majda said.
“Portable air conditioners are also often used when cultivating hydroponic crops."
“If such items are present at the property and appear inconsistent with practical use, it may indicate the presence of a drug laboratory.”
The smell could be another giveaway, she added. “Drug manufacturing can cause fumes, vapour and excessive heat to escape from windows and ventilators,” she said.
Additionally, Ms Majda said it was wise to check to see whether the meter board had been tampered with or rewired, and whether there were holes in nearby walls or built-in cupboards that could have been used to directly feed wires to the power source.
“Look for holes in the ceiling as they could also lead to hydroponic systems," she said.
“Try pulling up the carpet – if it comes away from the floor easily, it may have been removed to prevent staining in the drug manufacturing process and re-laid prior to inspection," she continued.
“Windows that are constantly covered or sealed during the day and night, and rooms that are covered in alfoil are also common signs that drugs may have been manufactured at the property.”