Prevent criminal use of your business premises

Are you renting out business premises, a warehouse, or a shed? It is important that you can trust your tenant. If criminal activities take place on your premises, you run the risk of financial damage or even criminal prosecution. Prevent criminals from using your premises for illegal activities.

Criminals prefer to rent premises for criminal activities, such as drug labs, hemp nurseries, or illegal housing. This often goes unnoticed. But even if you do not see it, illegal activity can still be going on. With these tips, you can prevent criminal use of your premises.

Risk

If it turns out that tenants in your building are engaging in criminal activities, you as a landlord run the following risks.

Criminal prosecution

You are punishable by law if you rent out premises where illegal activities are taking place, such as a drug lab. You have to be able to prove that you, as a landlord, are not at fault. If you fail to do so, you run the risk of criminal prosecution. This can lead to getting a criminal record, a fine, community service, or even imprisonment.

Financial damage

Criminal tenants usually do not treat property with care. A drug lab can cause considerable damage to your premises. Such as broken walls or fire and water damage up to tens of thousands of euros. Insurers do not compensate for such damages.

Sanctions

The municipality can impose sanctions, such as closing down your premises and imposing fines.

Losing your loan

Your mortgage lender can terminate your mortgage or loan because you have allowed the property to be used for purposes for which it was not intended. This can lead to the forced sale of your premises.

Reimbursement of costs

The energy company can make you liable for reimbursing the costs of your tenant’s illegal electricity tapping.

Reputational damage

Involvement in illegal activities damages your company's reputation. This can discourage customers from doing business with your company.

5 tips

With these tips, you can prevent criminal use of your premises.

1. Do not accept cash payments

Do not accept cash payments or payments from a party other than the tenant. Criminals like to pay in cash. This is usually money earned from criminal activities.

2. Personally arrange the rental contract with the tenant

Arrange for several personal meetings with the tenant before concluding a rental contract. Make sure to record contact and personal details. Ask for an original and valid proof of identity and check it for authenticity. Make a copy of the identity document yourself. Ask the tenant for a Certificate of conduct (VOG, in Dutch).

3. Request a Netherlands Chamber of Commerce KVK extract if the tenant is an entrepreneur

Request the original KVK extract for the company of your tenant from the Business Register. And check if the person who wants to rent is authorised to enter into a rental agreement on behalf of the company.

4. Get the tenant to conclude their own contract with an energy provider

Ask for a copy of the contract and note down the meter readings upon transfer of the premises.

5. Make clear agreements about the use

Clear agreements reduce the risk of problems. Lay down these agreements in a rental agreement. When drawing up the contract, use the models provided by the Real Estate Council (English translations available at a fee). If necessary, seek advice from a legal advisor or real estate agent. Include the following matters in the rental agreement:

  • Agreements on key management of the property, such as the number of keys, making new keys, and changing the locks.
  • Agree that you will remain in possession of a key to enter the premises in the event of an emergency.
  • Include in the contract that you will inspect the premises periodically, for example once every 3 months.
  • Give the tenant written user and safety instructions. Include the purpose(s) for which the tenant may use the premises.
  • State clearly that the illegal cultivation of hemp or other criminal activities, such as illegal prostitution, are prohibited in the business premises. If you discover that illegal activities are taking place, dissolve the rental agreement immediately. If the tenant does not voluntarily leave the premises, go to the subdistrict court to demand eviction.
  • Indicate that alterations or modifications to the building and/or its installations are not permitted.
  • Include in the contract that subletting is not allowed. This way, you can keep an eye on who is active in your building.
  • Create a transfer report upon key exchange. Record the condition of your business premises upon transfer.
  • Make sure you both sign the rental contract before the tenant moves into the building.
  • Always ask the tenant to pay a deposit. A deposit of 1 to 3 months' rent is common. Do not accept cash payments.

Real estate agent

Would you like a real estate agent to take care of the rental of your property? If so, make clear what you expect from the estate agent in terms of supervision and use of the property. Be aware that you remain personally responsible, even if you rent out your property through a realtor.

Keeping an eye on things

Monitor your property regularly and pay attention to the following points:

  • Check whether there are any business activities in the building during the day. Also drive past your premises in the evenings. If you do not see any activity, ask your neighbours about the use of your premises.
  • Regularly check the exterior of your premises. Be alert to:
    • a lack of signs of business activity on the premises. For example, you would expect to see a logo, company cars with logos, and a letterbox in legal business operations.
    • any strange goods on the premises, that do not match the type of business.
    • waste containers that do not contain waste appropriate to the activities of the company.
    • extra locks installed, making it impossible for you to visit the premises.
    • a remarkably high number of surveillance cameras. Does this suit the type of business?
    • extensions or renovations to the building, that have been done without consulting you. This may indicate illegal business activities, not visible to you as a landlord.
    • new ventilation shafts on the roof. This may indicate hemp cultivation or the production of synthetic drugs, such as ecstasy and amphetamine.
  • regularly inspect the interior of your premises. Ask yourself the following questions:
    • Are the activities appropriate for the business?
    • Does the inventory correspond with the type of business?
    • Are all areas accessible to you? Be on the alert if you are not allowed to visit certain rooms. Or if they do not have the keys.

File a report

Do you suspect that criminal activities are taking place in your building? Then report it to the police via 0900-8844. Would you prefer to report it anonymously? Then call 0800-0700. Read more about how to rent out your business premises safely (pdf, in Dutch).

What risks do you run as an entrepreneur and what should you pay attention to? Read everything about how to do business securely.
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