‘No Guarantees’ In Landlord And Tenant Relationship

Home’s Cannabis Factory Transformation ‘Extreme Example’ Of Difficulties


The story of a couple stunned to discover that tenants letting their home had turned it into a cannabis factory demonstrates one of the more extreme issues that landlords can face when putting a property up for rent, according to a property litigation expert at Irwin Mitchell.

Shaun and Katie Thomas were reportedly left with a £20,000 clean-up bill when they inspected their four-bedroom house in Wiltshire and discovered it was filled with 500 plants, eight tonnes of soil and specialist ventilation and lighting equipment.

The couple fell victim when they unwittingly let their home to a tenant who produced references and agreed to pay the requisite rent. Police have been unable to trace the man, who was known as Lee Yishi and fled when the landlords arrived to check the property.

As well as being unable to obtain damages as they were not covered for ‘malicious damage’, the landlords are concerned the value of their home may have dropped around £45,000.

James Parden, a Chartered Legal Executive at Irwin Mitchell who specialises in property litigation, said this kind of scenario highlights the more extreme risks which can emerge when choosing to let out a property.

He outlined: “A properly drafted tenancy agreement will prohibit the tenant from both causing damage to the property and carrying out any illegal activity there. However, even with such an agreement in place, it is impossible to guarantee that a tenant will adhere to the terms and conditions.

“The tenancy agreement should also give the landlord rights to inspect the property having given requisite notice to the tenant, to check its condition. However, a landlord is often reluctant to exercise such rights, as many tenants consider such inspections to amount to a breach of their privacy and a landlord could lose good tenants who consider that the landlord can’t trust them and decide not to renew their tenancy.

“Based on reports, it appears unlikely that the landlord will be able to recover the £20,000 required to repair the property as, while the activity will be a clear breach of such an agreement, the tenant is seemingly untraceable.

“Furthermore, even if the tenant was located and a claim issued against him for damages, the landlord would have to think about the cost of bringing the claim and importantly whether or not he would be able to recover any monies at all from the tenant if a claim was successful. 

“This is because the tenant’s funds are likely to have been acquired from crime, making recovery impossible.

“Ultimately, this kind of case highlights why landlords must always take extra care when it comes to the tenants they allow to rent their homes – although an extreme example, this shows what can happen if a home falls into the wrong hands.”