Landlord blames letting agent after homes are turned into drug farms



A London landlord was left furious with her letting agent after tenants turned two investment properties into a drug farm.

Shreena Shah discovered a man dismantling equipment used to grow cannabis when inspecting one of the properties.

Meanwhile the police discovered a cannabis farm in the other rental property she owns with her family.

The damage was considerable, as the chimney was broken and an illegal electricity line was set up in the house, as ducts and equipment were used to grow the plans and eradicate the smell.

Indeed, Shah claimed repairs would cost upwards of £150,000, saying both properties have been hugely damaged by the operation.

She points the finger at her letting agent, ABC Estates, saying “it appeared that ABC had done barely any checks on the tenants”.

Indeed, she claimed she was only sent the signed tenancy agreements and tenant references for both homes in January 2021, 18 months after the first tenants moved in.

The agent took rental payments in cash, while Shah said bank details weren’t sought for either set of tenants.

Shah has encountered a frustrating time when trying to get retribution regarding the letting agent.

Firstly she complained about ABC Estates to the Property Redress Scheme (PRS), a government service which considers consumer complaints about property issues.

The scheme said they couldn’t help her because a cannabis farm is a criminal matter, referring her to trading standards.

However the trading standards said they couldn’t help her because the properties were in two different London boroughs, and therefore referred her to the police.

The Metropolitan said it would not be possible to identify the cannabis growers, calling her complaint a civil issue.

Finally she reached out to the National Trading Standards Estate and Letting Agency Team, who referred her back to trading standards.

A government consultation recommended regulating estate agents two years ago, and cases like this could heighten these calls.

Richard Davidoff, managing director of ABC, responded to the accusations made by Shreena Shah.

He noted that the agent used references and obtained an insurance-backed guarantee from HomeLet.

He said: “The landlord asked the tenants to leave after 15 months, at which time the property was vacated and found to be in immaculate condition with all rent paid in full.

“The tenants then saw the house advertised online and asked if they could rent the house again.

“The landlord allowed them to move back in. That decision was based on their past experience, which was quite satisfactory.

“Three months later the property was found to be a cannabis farm. We cannot be held responsible for that.

“We were as shocked as they were and we do not condone such behaviour.”

 

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