By their very nature drug labs are designed to be clandestine, but one landlord insurance provider believes there are still some things that can give away whether a property is being used for something illegal.
According to Terri Scheer Insurance, there are a handful of relatively obvious signs that landlords and property managers should keep an eye out for.
“There are definitely some obvious things you should take note of and if you’re doing regular inspections you’re likely to notice them,” Terri Scheer Insurance distribution manager Belinda Butler said.
“They can be sort of major differences or they could be something as small as tenants refusing to unlock a door and allow rooms to be inspected,” Butler said.
Other things people should look for include unauthorised modifications, such as the rewiring of metre boards or holes in walls or ceilings used to run cables or hoses.
Visible damage such as faded paintwork or carpet from intense light sources can point to a hydroponic set up, as can water damage.
Landlords should also be wary of tenants who try to pay rent months in advance and those who try to avoid background checks, as well as those who come and go from the property at strange hours.
The presence of items such as glass flasks, beakers, rubber tubing, gas cylinders, chemical containers, drums, drain cleaner, garden fertiliser and cough, cold or allergy medicine can also be an indicator of drug manufacturing.
While the signs can be obvious, Butler said issues such as drug labs are often another reason why landlords should employ a property manager.
“If someone’s refusing to allow an inspection to take place, or a certain room to be inspected, a property manager is usually more familiar with the legislation that covers rental inspections and is probably going to better equipped to carry out a full and proper inspection,” she said.
“Property managers are also usually well across what type of insurance a landlord should have and what it covers and if you’ve got a drug lab in your property then you definitely want the right insurance.”
Butler said reclaiming a house after it has been used as a drug lab is not as simple as just removing the offending tenants and their set-up.
“These operations can cause extensive damage and we’ve had insurance claims that have run into tens of thousands of dollars. Things like making sure the house is clean and safe to live in can get really expensive.
“It can sometimes take a while a for the process to take place, so owners can easily be in for a long period where they’re not going to be able to rent the house out and make any income from it.”
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