Posted by: Daryl & Wendy Ashby | May 29, 2010

Grow-Ops

Rather a scary subject for most Landlords today and while we generally think of them in terms of single family residential homes or industrial building, this is no longer the case.

Recently six marijuana grow operations (grow-ops) were found in different units of a single residential rental townhouse project in Calgary. Alberta Health Services have condemned two of the units and the remediation costs are estimated at $80,000 to $90,000 each.

Because it was the accused first offence, he received a years probation and a $500 fine, plus he lost his damage deposit of $500. It hardly compares to the loss the landlord suffered, wouldn’t you say?

The grow ops were able to continue despite annual inspections conducted on the site. Upon receiving the “Notice to Enter” 24 hrs in advance, the residents would remove the additional lighting, pots and plants, chemicals and place them in the attic of the townhouse.

In an effort to eliminate this type of activity and prevent expensive remediate costs, owners of rental housing should be familiar with the signs of a grow-op, such as the following:

* Windows which have been blackened out

* Minimal furniture, if any

* Neighbours complaining of humming sounds from loud fans and/or modified venting systems

* Skunky smells

* Condensation in the windows

* Icicles hanging from vents, eaves or chimney stacks during the winter months

* Sweating, staining, condensation, or wet spots through the unit

* Structural damage to the concrete near the electrical panel

* Moisture damage along the foundation, drywall and window casings

* Little or no snow on the roof during the winter when other nearby roofs are covered, this is particularly true immediately after a snowfall.

During an inspection it is important to examine a rental unit thoroughly, including the basement and attic areas.

It may be advisable to check with your insurance carrier to determine what coverage, if any, you may have in the event a grow-op is found on your property. Many insurance companies will not cover the remediation costs that are associated with this crime. You could be on the hook for tens of thousands of dollars, all out of your pocket.

Be very careful, diligent and observant. If you suspect there is or may be a grow-op on your property, call the police immediately.

One more consideration is the possibility the crown prosecutor may attempt to seize your property as it was used for illegal activities, furthermore they may view the rental income as “proceeds of crime.”

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