House insurance and marijuana grow ops: BC landlords as the first line of defence

Landlords in British Columbia and insurance companies have had to face the consequences of surging marijuana cultivation in the province in recent years.  As insurance companies minimize their exposure by excluding coverage linked to direct or indirect damage caused by marijuana cultivation, property owners must take defensive measures to protect their homes and properties from damage due to unscrupulous criminals.

According to statistics, marijuana use in Canada is quadruple the global rate, with about 40% of marijuana used in Canada coming from BC.  Typically, criminals rent detached houses from unsuspecting landlords, and then turn the homes into self-contained greenhouses or “grow ops” for the hydroponic cultivation of marijuana.  Condo owners are also at risk:  recent trends have shown that criminals are also targeting condos for marijuana production.

Tampering with electrical wiring – which can lead to house fires – and creating conditions to increase moisture in these homes can result in significant damage to homes:  the average cost to remediate grow up op damage to a house is over $40,000, with many claims soaring about that.

It has now become standard for insurance companies to specifically exclude coverage for claims resulting in any loss damage from any illegal activity relating to the cultivation and/or processing of marijuana (or other illegal substance) caused by a tenant.

Therefore, landlords in BC now must take an active first line of defense to protect their properties against the risks of grow op cultivation by tenants.

Minimizing risk:  Knowing your rights and identifying grow ops

In BC, landlords are permitted to inspect their properties in the case of emergencies or upon delivery of written notice to the tenant at least 24 hours in advance. Reasons for inspections have to be valid.

Landlords should also be aware of telltale signs of a grow op and be consistently vigilant.  Signs may include condensation on darkened windows, tenants with little or no furniture, and tenants who wish to pay in cash or above market value, etc.

For an excellent and extensive list of tips for residential landlords to identify grow op, refer to this brochure provided by the Insurance Bureau of Canada

By taking these logical measures, property owners will go a long way in minimizing the risk of renting out their homes to marijuana growers and risking the damage or loss of their properties.

Need more information?

If you have any questions about property insurance in British Columbia, or you would like a quote, please contact us:

Habitat Insurance Agencies Ltd

Tel 604-438-5241

[email protected]

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Disclaimer:  This article is designed to provide information for personal use only.  Please consult your professional insurance broker for further information. Habitat Insurance Agencies Ltd is not responsible for any legal disputes of this matter.