Fire sparks concern over the dangers of cannabis grow-houses: Landlord bulletin issue 9 (August 2017)
16 August 2017
A fire which damaged a rental property in Orelia has sparked concern about the dangers posed by cannabis grow-houses when the power to the home is by-passed.
About 1.30pm on 15 July 2017, Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) firefighters attended Orelia Avenue home and extinguished a roof space fire, later discovering the electric meter had been by-passed.
WA Police attended the property and found three rooms had been turned into an indoor cannabis farm with sophisticated hydroponic growing and lighting systems.
The discovery of more grow-houses in Perth has prompted a renewed warning from Consumer Protection for Perth landlords to be extra vigilant when selecting tenants for their homes, with Western Power also concerned about power safety.
Crime gangs continue to target vulnerable private landlords who are often left with huge damage and clean-up bills.
Checking driver's licenses
Rental applicants may pose as a couple with a young child and may align themselves to the ethnic background of the landlord so they present as credible tenants. They trick landlords by providing referees who are other gang members and present fake driver’s licences as identification.
One way of checking if these licences are authentic is by doing a demerit point check which may indicate if the licence is fake. If a prospective tenant is reluctant to cooperate with a demerit check, alarm bells should ring.
It is good practice to sight original driver’s licences, rather than copies, for identification purposes, although crime syndicates might hold one legitimate licence and pass it around.
The driver’s licence check can be carried out online for most States using the links below, although for Victoria and Tasmania landlords will have to make a phone call:
- Driver’s Demerit Point enquiry – Department of Transport WA
- Check demerit points – Queensland Government
- Check demerit points service - NSW State Government
- Demerit points - South Australian Government
- Check demerit points - Vic Roads, Victorian Government
- Demerit points - Tasmanian Government
Conducting an inspection soon after the tenant moves in with a week’s notice is a good idea, especially if there are some doubts. Another consideration is to subscribe to a tenancy database or engage a professional property manager.
The by-passing of power poses a great risk to the home and the community through the threat of fire and possible electrocution. Any modification of the Western Power network that bypasses the meter to access electricity is an offence and anyone who does this for damage or theft of electricity will be prosecuted by Western Power.
Western Power cooperates fully with police requests during an operation to allow safe access to an investigation area or supply information that assists an investigation.
Landlords who suspect their property is being used for illegal purposes should contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 immediately.
Enquiries about what they can do under tenancy laws can be made to Consumer Protection by email or by calling 1300 304 054.
Previous bulletin to landlords on tips in regards to cannabis grow houses.