My rental’s a drug lab! ’

Mercury (Hobart) - Property - - Front Page -

TO­DAY’S topic might to­tally freak out a few real es­tate in­vestors, man.

Drugs, specif­i­cally drug lab­o­ra­to­ries and hy­dro­ponic set-ups within your rental prop­erty, can re­ally ruin your day.

Hun­dreds of drug labs are dis­cov­ered each year in Australia and they can cost land­lords thou­sands of dol­lars in re­pairs or lost rent.

Aterri Scheer In­sur­ance spokeper­son says drug mak­ers will of­ten tar­get rental prop­er­ties, but there are ways to pro­tect your prop­erty.

Terri Scheer’s top five drug de­tec­tion and preven­tion tips for land­lords:

Avoid se­cluded lo­ca­tions. High fences, dense fo­liage, and no win­dows vis­i­ble from the street can help sneaky peo­ple be sneaky.

Con­duct prop­erty in­spec­tions quar­terly and look for signs the prop­erty is be­ing lived in, as drug man­u­fac­tur­ers of­ten don’t live at the prop­er­ties they use to cul­ti­vate crops.

Look out for un­usual items that might not ap­pear to have a prac­ti­cal use, such as rub­ber tub­ing, drums, chem­i­cal con­tain­ers, fer­tiliser and lots of cough and al­lergy medicines.

Use your nose. Drug man­u­fac­tur­ing can cause some un­pleas­ant fumes and chem­i­cal odours that can some­times be smelled from the street.

Check for mod­i­fi­ca­tions such as the me­ter board be­ing tam­pered with, holes in the ceil­ing, or win­dows be­ing con­stantly cov­ered or sealed.

If a ten­ant re­fuses you en­try to a be­d­room (‘‘My grandma’s sleep­ing in there, man’’), warn­ing bells should start ring­ing.

Re­mem­ber that it’s not al­ways drug-mak­ing op­er­a­tions that will dam­age your prop­erty.

Reg­u­lar loud par­ties, a menagerie of pets at the prop­erty, or in­door darts tour­na­ments with­out dart boards can cost you plenty. If you can strike up a re­la­tion­ship with nosey neigh­bours, they can help you keep an eye on things.

Oth­er­wise find a good prop­erty man­ager or take an ac­tive in­ter­est in your tenants (with­out be­ing seen as a stalker). Afew acts of ran­dom kind­ness – such as small gifts at Christ­mas or Easter or mak­ing un­ex­pected im­prove­ments – can dra­mat­i­cally im­prove your re­la­tion­ship with most, but not all, tenants.

Agood land­lord in­sur­ance pol­icy is also vi­tal to pro­tect you against wil­ful and ac­ci­den­tal dam­age from tenants, plus those who skip town with­out pay­ing rent.

If you are struck by the bad luck of bad tenants, don’t take it per­son­ally. Chances are they’re not do­ing it to at­tack you, they’re just idiots.

And don’t be freaked out to find a clan­des­tine drug lab­o­ra­tory in your prized in­vest­ment prop­erty. It can hap­pen to any land­lord. The key is to be pre­pared, be pro­tected from fi­nan­cial loss, and be on the look­out for signs of trou­ble.

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