Landlords are being encouraged to be vigilant when renting to tenants they do not know, especially if they are offering cash payments.
The warning has been issued by Cleveland Police who say that it can be a sign that the occupants are growing cannabis farms, which can be deadly.
Electricity meters are often bypassed in such cases with dangerous wiring that can be a fire risk.
Detective Inspector Steve Kappel said: “It is important that landlords are vigilant when renting their properties to tenants that they don’t know, especially if they offer to pay cash, and that they keep an eye on their property and regularly inspect it to make sure that they know what’s going on there.
“More often than not when we turn up to properties where cannabis farms have been discovered, we find that the electricity meters have been bypassed. Not only has the person carried out a dangerous act but they have put their own life at risk.
“Fire hazards also go hand-in-hand with cannabis farms. We often see dangerous wiring or heating lamps left close to wooden surfaces. If these caused a property to go up in flames then this could obviously endanger a number of lives.”
The warning comes days after the discovery of a cannabis farm estimated to be worth around £150,000 at an address on Clarendon Road in Middlesbrough on Monday, January 11.
Phil Lancaster, Director of Community Protection at Cleveland Fire Brigade, said: “This is extremely irresponsible. We utterly condemn such behaviour and fully support the police in any action taken.”
Anyone with information regarding drugs activity in their area is asked to contact Cleveland Police on 101, the Cleveland Drugs Enforcement Team confidential line on 0800 929 702 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or www.crimestoppers-uk.org.