Property market hit by cannabis factory fires

Loss adjuster Woodgate and Clark has highlighted a spate of claims relating to fires at commercial properties which were being used as cannabis farms. The adjuster said that between 2015 and 2020, the number of cannabis farms uncovered in the UK had increased by more than 150%, with criminals shifting away from large farms to smaller scale production.

Marie Quinn, head of counter fraud at Woodgate and Clark, said: “As lockdown measures have eased, we have seen a growing trend in fire and malicious damage claims across a number of insured property schemes which have arisen from the illegal cultivation of cannabis.”

She cited a recent £1m fire claim, where investigators found that the fire was caused by faulty electric wiring as a result of internal alterations by two tenants who were growing cannabis in adjoining terraced houses.

She said: “This was a catastrophic fire that badly damaged a block of three terraced properties, which thankfully were unoccupied at the time. The council issued a dangerous structure notice and insisted the roof be removed and fencing erected for public safety.”

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