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All gone to pot

Megan Reynolds, This is Local London, 21st February 2006

The pots in which cannabis was cultivated in the Chingford house tenants turned into a drugs factory.

A LANDLADY found cannabis plants growing in every room of her house.

Her tenants of two years wrecked the three-bedroom terrace house in Cherrydown Avenue, Chingford. It will cost her between £5,000 and £10,000 to repair.

The owner privately let out the property to a young married couple from Vietnam who were expecting a baby, and the husband's male cousin.

When the landlady needed to visit the house to measure the windows for double glazing to be fitted, they negotiated over the phone for several months trying to agree on a date to meet at the property.

However, they could not agree, so the owner went there with her son.

She said: "There was a small crack in one of the windows and my son looked in and saw trees growing in there. We went in and saw they had set up an irrigation system, light and heating equipment."

Police were contacted, the house was cleared and the tenants did not return.

The cannabis cultivators bypassed the electricity company to power the heat lamps, and it will cost the owner £1,500 to get the electricity rewired safely.

The landlady is struggling to claim compensation on her home insurance to repair the house she was hoping to sell.

Rented accommodation used to cultivate cannabis plants is rife in Waltham Forest, and landlords have been deceived when letting property through estate agents or privately.

Sgt Tony How of Valley Safer Neighbourhoods team said the officers acted quickly on the information received from the landlord but there were no tenants on the scene when officers arrived.

He said: "Some months ago an appeal was submitted to the Guardian to remind landlords of their obligation to abide by the law in relation to their premises being used for criminal activity.

"I am extremely encouraged that this landlord came forward with vital information and would like any other landlords out there with similar suspicions to do the same."

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