Grow Ops: What’s Up in Smoke? Part 2 of 2


Community Costs:

The Grow Op requires modifications to a property’s electrical system. This may result in mistakes that will create a fire hazard. In addition to burning the property containing the Grow Op, there will be fire, smoke and water damage to neighbourhood properties.

In addition to the fire hazards associated with faulty wiring completed to by-pass the electric meter and to set up the Grow Op equipment, the average Grow Op steals about $15,000 in electric power. In 2002, Grow Ops were estimated to have cost Ontario nearly $100 million.  This cost is passed on to you the consumer.

However, in Mississauga, Ontario, in 2003, a landlord was ordered to reimburse $26,000 to the hydro company for the electricity that had been stolen by his tenants.  Not all costs are passed on to the community.

Personal Danger

Former Grow Op home occupants are often the victim of mistaken identity by competitor criminals. How many home invasions, break-and-enters, and kidnappings are caused by criminals attempting to grab the proceeds of a Grow Op, only to find there are new innocent occupants? Never mind shots maybe fired. In BC, RCMP figures that one in eight homicides is related to Grow Ops.

So, how can you protect yourself?

The Canadian Real Estate Association offers good advice.

As a potential home buyer, look for:                                                                                        – Mould in corners where the walls and ceilings meet.                                                                 – Signs of roof vents                                                                                                                          – Painted concrete basement floors, with circular marks                                                           – Damaged or broken seals on the electric meter                                                                         – Unusual wiring on the exterior of the home                                                                                 – Brownish stains that bleeds down along the siding around the soffit.                                     – Patterns of screw holes on the walls                                                                                             – Alternation of fire places-Evidence of patching on the basement ceiling leading to the ground floor

Ask your realtor to protect your interests against the purchase of a former Grow Op with a Buyers’ Condition. Seek a competent home inspector who has experience identifying former Grow Ops.

As a potential landlord, look for:

– Does the potential tenant inspect every room?                                                                          – Obtain identification                                                                                                                       -Allow for inspection of hot water tanks and furnace every two months                                   -No extra tenants without landlord permission                                                                             -Criminal activity will result in immediate suspension of the lease.                                         -Did the potential tenant spend more time looking at the breaker-box, plumbing and basement.                                                                                                                                             – What are their references and have they been checked?                                                           – Did the potential tenant complete the rental application in front of you?                            – Does the potential tenant review the rental/lease agreement?                                              – And if so, will they take exception to clauses that say–Applicant will provide reasonable access to the premise

In BC, a landlord eviction was upheld even in the case of a tenant who had a Health Canada certificate to have marijuana for personal medical use.

Additional landlord protective activities:

– Let neighbors know the property is being rented and how to contact you;                           – Record make, model, year and license of tenant vehicles                                                           – Reconfirm verbally with the tenant the clauses in the rental agreement that provide for internal and external inspections of the property                                                                         – Ask to pick up monthly cheques, not cash.

To protect your neighbourhood, watch for:

– Next door is moving in with unrecognizable equipment and not many household furnishings                                                                                                                                           – They move in with copper and/or PVC pipe, soil, halogen lamps, ducting and plastic sheeting                                                                                                                                                – They come and go but never seem to stay overnight                                                                 – Little or no garbage is brought to the curb each week                                                               – Windows are dark, and may be secured with metal bars, blacked out or heavily draped   – A strong odor similar to skunk cabbage comes from the building                                          – Power meter spins at high rate of speed or is stopped but the lights are on.                       – Heavy condensation on the inside of windows                                                                           – Humming sound of fans or generators                                                                                         – Condensation or discoloring on the roof                                                                                     – Unusual amounts of steam coming from vents in the house in cold weather.                       – Rooftop with no snow on it when everyone else has snow on the roof                                  – Individuals come to do exterior maintenance (shovel snow, mow lawn) but do not stay   -People entering and exiting from side entrances or through the garage only.                       – Excessive security such as guard dogs, “Keep Out” signs, high fences, heavy chains and locks on gates.

In all cases, if you suspect something, please report it to police. Take no other action. Stay safe.

Websites: RCMP, Canadian Real Estate Association


About wojciechpianka

After a few years of studying English and History at the University of Toronto, I decided to transfer to Ryerson University and pursue a Bachelor of Commerce degree. While studying, I worked various jobs where I acquired many skills. Starting as a teller at Scotiabank, I moved on to being a manager of a restaurant, admin staff at a medical clinic, a sales agent for INGDirect and a manager at One King West Hotel. While all these jobs challenged me, I never felt my potential being utilized. Finally in 2008, I completed the Ontario Mortgage Agent Course and signed up with The Mortgage Alliance Company of Canada. This was a great decision, as it allowed me to use the skills I learned working to help people achieve their real estate and financial goals. My passion for real estate and numbers has lead me to becoming a mortgage agent. Growing up in New York City, I always had a fascination of historic buildings and skyscrapers. At 21, I bought my 1st property and have been investing in real estate ever since. I firmly believe thru steady, safe and conservative investing a one can obtain long term financial wealth. One day, I hope to develop the same buildings I help clients purchase.
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