There are estimated to be 50,000 marijuana grow houses in Canada. Although they can exist in any neighbourhood, organized growers seem to prefer to rent larger homes in quiet areas with unfinished basements. You may even have one in your neighbourhood.
Besides being illegal and driving property values down, grow houses, create health, fire, and safety risks for neighbours and future purchasers.
Grow house operators often steal electricity to power an elaborate system of lighting and fans. Rarely do these modifications meet electrical codes – instead they create hazards. It is estimated that 1 in 10 of these rewired homes will burn down.
The heat lamps used to create artificial lighting generate tremendous amounts of heat. So growers install powered ventilation systems to remove the hot humid air. This often results in damage to structural components, including roof/gable vents, chimneys and attic spaces. Improper ventilation causes dampness which leads to mould growth, mildew and rot.
Telltale signs of a grow operation include houses that always have the blinds down or windows covered; “occupants” that are rarely seen, or come and go at unusual hours; and houses with little or no garbage for pick up. The alterations made to the building for optimal plant growth, including electrical and ventilation modifi cations, are often impossible to reverse without great expense.
Insurance companies will not cover damage caused by marijuana grow operations. According to real estate experts, once a home is used for a grow operation, it can have a dramatic negative effect on its resale value. Unless it is totally rehabilitated, a grow house may be impossible to finance or insure.
If you are a landlord, be wary of renters who pay in cash and are rarely at home. Landlords should always request a copy of the renter’s insurance policy, specifically naming the landlord as an additional named insured on the policy. In addition, always ask for a credit application. The creation of a paper trail and request for insurance documents will usually deter any potential grower from your property.