Pubdate: Tue, 20 Jun 2006
Source: London Free Press (CN ON)
Copyright: 2006 The London Free Press
Author: Patrick Maloney
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)


London landlords whose rental properties are turned into marijuana 
grow operations by tenants could be on the hook when the drug dens 
are busted, police Chief Murray Faulkner warns.

If the suggestion by police is adopted by city council, property 
owners -- even if they're not connected to the pot growing -- would 
have to cover the costs, among them salaries, police run up while 
razing a grow-op.

"You can't just say 'I rent it, but I don't know what goes on,' " 
said Faulkner, who broached the subject with the police services 
board last week. "I think a lot of people, as long as the cheques 
come in, they don't care. But that does nothing for our community, 
that's for sure."

The idea is merely a suggestion in its "preliminary stages," Faulkner noted.

Such a bylaw -- already enacted in one Toronto-area city -- would 
have seen London police recover $33,000 from landlords after grow-op 
busts last year, Faulkner said. Instead, the cost was covered by taxpayers.

While Faulkner initially said yesterday "innocent" landlords wouldn't 
be targeted, he later amended that view.

It's up to landlords to exercise their right, given under Ontario's 
Tenant Protection Act, to keep watch over the homes and apartments 
they rent, Faulkner said.

"The landlord has a right . . . to do inspections after they give 
notice," he said. "If the landlord finds what he believes to be a 
grow-op and notifies (police), he is off the hook."

But it's not quite so simple, Paul Cappa of the London Property 
Management Association said, noting an owner needs a specific reason 
to search a home they've rented.

"A landlord's caught between a rock and a hard place," Cappa said. 
"That's obviously a concern that we have, that police would (propose) that."

Police have long pointed to grow-ops as dangerous, especially because 
they're often hidden inside seemingly normal homes in otherwise quiet 

While he wouldn't comment on the potentially controversial police 
suggestion that landlords pay for their tenants' crimes, one 
councillor acknowledged grow-ops are an increasing problem.

"It's occurring in our community certainly more than we would like it 
to happen," said Coun. Ab Chahbar, who sits on the police services 
board. "We'd like to bring it under control. We would like to 
eliminate it, period."

To Faulkner, who estimated about 60 grow-ops were busted here last 
year, this proposal could help do just that.

"You need to come up with new and innovative ways to attack the 
problem," he said.

"Unless you write up a bylaw (wherein) the owner is partly liable, 
it's no good. There's no teeth to it."
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