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Rental homes and criminal gangs: is your buy-to-let at risk?

Victoria Barker
Written by Victoria Barker

Landlords and letting agents are being urged to be vigilant of criminal gangs operating in rental properties.

The warning comes from Cheshire Police, which has issued some guidance on the key warning signs for landlords and agents to look out for.

The force say in the past few months, they have received intelligence to suggest that Organised Crime Gangs (OCG’s) have been renting large high value properties in rural areas to house modern slavery victims.

While there have been no recent incidents in Cheshire, officers are aware of similar cases at neighbouring forces and are asking all local residents to be on the lookout.

How to spot the signs of a property being used by an OCG

  • Increased vehicle movements in and out of the property
  • Suspicious activity at the address 
  • Constantly covered or blocked-off windows
  • People coming and going at all hours or neighbours you never see
  • Increased utility bills

What to do if you are concerned

The advice is that anyone who suspects that a property is being used by an organised crime gang should contact the police on the number 101. Alternatively, residents can report information anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or visit the Crimestoppers website at

County lines

The Home Office also recently relaunched its campaign to help landlords spot the signs of their property could be being used by drugs gangs. Read more about this and County Lines here.

You can read more about this here, and check out this poster for landlords are things to look out for.

Learn more

  • The RLA has produced a guide for landlords on what to do to avoid a buy to let being used as a cannabis farm. Read our guide here.

About the author

Victoria Barker

Victoria Barker

Victoria is the Communications Officer for the RLA.

She is responsible for producing articles for our Campaigns and News Centre, the weekly E-News newsletter and media review, and creating social media content. She also contributes to our members magazine, Residential Property Investor.

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