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South-East Asian crime gangs, based in the eastern states, are renting Perth homes and turning them into indoor cannabis farms – dozens of homes have been converted into grow houses so far this year.
The gangs often target Asian private landlords. They build trust by playing on a shared culture and use false identification and references to pose as a family with a young child. In reality the only ‘family’ is one with criminal intent.
After signing a long lease, the rental house is gutted and the interior converted into a hydroponic cannabis growing system. Power meters are often by-passed to steal electricity from the grid, which have caused house fires.
Repair bills for the home owner are often substantial, estimated at $70,000 in one case. A property owner who had agreed to cover the cost of electricity as part of the lease later received an $80,000 bill. None of this includes the loss of rental income while repairs are carried out!
A fake driver’s licence is often used for identification – only accept an original, not a copy. A simple way to check you have a real drivers licence is to do a demerit check on the relevant State Department of Transport website. If a prospective tenant is reluctant to cooperate alarm bells should ring.
Conduct an inspection soon after the tenant moves in (giving a week’s notice) and continue to do these regularly – up to 4 a year are allowed.
Subscribe to a tenancy database or engage a professional property manager, both can help to identify dodgy tenants.
Property owners should consider taking out landlords insurance and for those with insurance, check to make sure the policy covers these types of situations.
Landlords who suspect their property is being used for illegal purposes should contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 immediately.
If you need more information or have an enquiry about what your rights and responsibilities under tenancy laws, you can:
Cannabis house damage.
Cannabis grow house damage.