February 17, 2009

Norwich Union has a problem with cannabis. Specifically, the insurer is worried that, unbeknownst to their landlords, certain nefarious individuals may be ensconcing themselves within tenanted residential properties bent on the illicit cultivation of the mind-bending recreational drug of that name.

Landlords should vet prospective tenants with particular care, NU warns‚ possibly rejecting those wearing dark glasses, carrying lamps, electrical cables and packets of seeds and/or speaking suspiciously slowly or indistinctly.

No offence, but, “residential landlords may not be covered if their property is damaged by tenants using it for cannabis production,” NU cautions. “As with most insurance policies,” the insurer insists, “the duty of care element means a landlord must protect his investment and minimise his losses. This means it is important to be aware of the warning signs and make sure all  reasonable precautions’ are taken.”

NU points out that in 2005 the police identified more than 700 cannabis factories in London alone, but strangely don’t appear to have got round to producing any comparable statistics for subsequent years.

It is widely recognised that NU has no problem with farmers per se, but when those farmers are not of the usual tweed-clad variety but actually (dramatic pause) cannabis farmers, it seems, warning lights start flashing‚ and the colours are just, like, incredible.

Where was I? Ah yes, fire! Drug farmers trail fire in their wake. Not only do their grow lamps tend to burst into flame from time to time, but attempts to siphon off unmetered electricity from the mains can also lead to conflagrations. Worse yet, cannabis farmers have been known to start a blaze or two intentionally to cover their tracks when they believe they are at risk of detection. And they are, of course, notoriously paranoid.

“Aside from fire,” notes NU drugs czar Mikes Colmans, “cannabis factories cause major physical damage to a property, from holes made to pass cables through walls to significant water damage due to leaking buckets and pipes.”

“We would recommend employing a letting or managing agent,” Colmans persists remorselessly, “to manage the tenant vetting process and provide the inspection service on the landlords’ behalf. Although there will be a cost involved, should there be damage or a fire and a landlord has been found to neglect their responsibilities, a claim might not be paid.” Heavy!



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