Have you considered the dangers of illicit drug production in rental properties you manage? Here are 40 red flags for rental properties and drug production – be aware!

Remember, one sign may not indicate drug production, but multiple red flags can be a strong indication.

Potential red flags indicating illicit drug production in rental properties

Keep an eye out for these signs during your routine inspections or any visit to the property:

  • Locked bedrooms, sheds and garages
  • Doors to rooms and garages are locked, and the tenant claims their partner has the key and is away
  • Locked tool sheds with extension power cords running to unpowered sheds
  • Enclosed rear yard areas behind garages or sheds
  • False partitions in sheds or garages
  • Water damage to the bottom of built-in wardrobes (usually found during final inspections)
  • Water stains, damage to ceilings, and moved/removed manhole covers
  • Smelly socks or cat urine odour (typical for amphetamines production)
  • Hazy mist in the premises (clandestine labs create fumes)
  • Unauthorised exhaust fans or makeshift ones
  • Laboratory equipment, glass beakers, and lots of chemicals (resembling school chemistry equipment)
  • An unusually high number of cold/flu tablet packets (although some pharmacies now stock products without pseudoephedrine)
  • Chemical containers lying around (cleaning fluids, hydrochloric acid containers)
    Burning or burnt chemical containers in yards
  • Small plastic bags lying around (coin bags or jewellery bags)
  • Sophisticated weight scales
  • Large amounts of tin foil and baking soda
  • Tampered electricity meter and unapproved new wiring
  • Powerful lights in wardrobes, under locked doors of rooms, and in storage rooms
  • Unusually humid rooms
  • Coat hanger wire (or similar) hanging from ceilings
  • Unusual fortifications, deadlocks, alarms, and surveillance cameras on interior doors, with requests for window bars
  • Unemployed tenants driving expensive cars or visitors appearing in expensive cars
  • Rent is paid in cash and months in advance
  • Weapons like axe handles or baseball bats left by the front door during inspections
  • Metal drums and boxes on the property with spray-painted or removed labels

Indicators the neighbours may observe

Neighbours might alert you to tenant actions suggesting illicit drug production.

  • A strong smell of cannabis emanating from the property (this is a clear sign!)
  • Frequent ‘smoke breaks’ outside (a possible sign of flammable fumes inside)
  • Chemical odours from the house or the waste disposal area
  • Unfriendly behaviour, appearing secretive about their activities
  • Paranoid or unusual conduct; watching suspiciously as cars pass by
  • Always closed blinds over windows
  • Blackened windows with black plastic or silver foil or boarded up with wooden panels.
  • Frequent traffic and people entering and leaving, usually at night
  • People coming and going from the property who do not live there (a lack of activity at night may indicate that the property is being used only for drug production and not as a residence)
  • The constant hum of extractor fans
  • Tenants and visitors eating outside the property all the time (due to fumes inside)
  • Disposing of their rubbish in another neighbour’s bin or area
  • Neighbours reporting bright lights on all night.
Darren Hunter
Property Management Trainer, Speaker & Consultant at | [email protected]

Darren Hunter - of darrenhunter.com is a national and international property management trainer, speaker, consultant and authority on property management, specialising in fee maximisation and profitability as well as time and stress management and property management productivity.


  1. I have witnessed most of the signed at my property.
    Can I start eviction right away, or I have to prove the drug manufacturing case first, by calling police?