As if you don’t have enough to be vigilant about as a property manager, a spike in the discovery of drug labs in residential properties throughout Australia is a growing concern for landlords, tenants and property managers.
Illicit drug activity in Australian residential properties is on the rise, creating a major concern for landlords, tenants and property managers due to:
- The health and safety risks, and
- The potential costs associated with forensic testing, specialist cleaning, damage to the property and loss of rent.
The problem is so significant in Western Australia, where methamphetamine use is reported to be the highest in the country, that the Real Estate Institute of WA (REIWA) has launched a new illicit drug awareness course worth 7 elective CPD points. Developed to assist those working on the front line, especially property managers, the course is presented by two of Australia’s most recognised illicit drug manufacture experts. If you are in Western Australia, click here to learn more about the course. It’s likely to be only a matter of time before a course like this is run in other states.
Because hundreds of clandestine drug laboratory (known as ‘clan labs’) are discovered by police each year, most commonly in rental properties, it is important for you to be aware of the signs to look out for. Here are some potential red flags to look out for in the tenancy selection process and during the tenancy.
Red flags to look out for in the tenancy selection process
- Attempts made to avoid background checks
- Request to pay in cash, often months in advance
Signals during the tenancy that you could be managing a drug lab
- Excessive security at the expense of the tenant, such as security alarms, CCTV, barbed wire fencing, guard dogs, window bars
- Plumbing or electrical modifications
- Extractor fans or pool cleaning equipment installed in odd locations on the premises and/or when there is no pool
- Chemical odours
- Suspicious run-off in nearby drains
- A hefty rise in electricity and water costs or tampered meter boards
- Evidence that nobody is actually living in the premises
- Complaints from neighbours about unusual behaviour, noises, odours and/or excessive comings and goings
- Tenants burning rubbish and/or large volumes of containers, pipes and hoses etc. dumped nearby
- Tenants avoiding property inspections by not making themselves available
What to do if you suspect you are managing a clan lab
First and foremost, do NOT confront the tenant or attempt to enter the premises. Your safety is paramount. Call the police.
What if the signs are not so obvious?
Sometimes signs may not be so obvious as those listed above and you may just sense something is not quite right. The key is to be proactive during all inspections and keep impeccable records of everything, including photos, to build a case should it ever go to Tribunal or Court.
Keep a digital and hard copy of all photos (with dates) on the tenant’s file and email a copy of the signed Ingoing Inspection Report and Lease Agreement to the tenant to maintain a digital audit trail.
A better, more efficient way to conduct inspections, keep everyone in the loop and maintain a complete and irrefutable audit trail is to invest in the leading inspection app on the Australian market, InspectSafe. InspectSafe is inspection, safety and maintenance software all rolled into one easy to use app installed on your iPad. It also features a built-in GPS tracking and distress alert, which helps keep you safe during inspections. Request a demonstration of InspectSafe today.