Q. We have had a nice, respectable looking couple apply for our property. As usual we have asked for references and three months’ worth of bank statements. They have told us that they would prefer not to do this but that they are willing to pay the entire years rent in advance in cash. Should we accept?
A. You need to be really careful about this. Offering to pay up front in cash is a classic sign of criminal tenants. Often a criminal gang will employ a respectable looking couple to apply for a tenancy who then move out (having been well paid by the gang) and the gang then move in to use your property for criminal purposes – most commonly this is so they can convert it to a cannabis farm.
This is far more common than many landlords believe, and the conversation process can cause massive damage to your property. However, even if you have decent insurance cover, the problem you will face, if you need to make a claim, is that the insurance company may refuse to pay on the basis that you failed to carry out proper checks on the tenants.
So don’t be influenced to allow tenants in without proper checking for ANY reason. And however much advance rent they are willing to pay. In fact, the more they are willing to pay the more suspicious you should be.
It is not unknown for claims to repair cannabis farm damage to be in the region of £80,000 or more so this is not something you should risk.
Q. When I visited my property recently it looked to me as if tenants had been taking drugs on the premises which worries me. What should I do about this?