Commercial landlords: protect yourself from waste crime

If you lease commercial sites, you should take steps to protect yourself from waste crime.

Waste criminals can target your site by illegally storing waste. They could cause damage to your land and buildings and create conditions for waste fires.

Costs to you of repair and removal can be high. You can also be held criminally liable for your tenant's illegal waste operations.

Carry out checks on your prospective tenants

Before leasing property or land you should:

  • verify the tenant's identity and residential address
  • check business information they give you with information held by Companies House 
  • check if the registered office is an unusual location, not obviously associated with the tenant's business
  • check if the company - or its directors - have any enforcement, prosecution or insolvency history, or is a new company with little credit history
  • get information about what they plan to do in your property. Be cautious of them saying that they want to store waste temporarily before it's recycled - this might not be their intention
  • check that the size of your property is appropriate for what they want to do
  • get evidence of the prospective tenant's permits. Verify them using our public register

Check the terms of your lease

Consider whether the terms of your lease allow you to manage the tenancy. Your lease could include terms which:

  • include obligations on the tenant to:
    • provide copies of waste transfer notes
    • provide copies of compliance reports following NRW site visits
  • enable inspections at any time, without notice
  • include financial bonds or personal guarantees from directors of waste operations. This could reduce your exposure to the costs of waste removal or fines

Carry out regular inspections

Understand what's happening on your property by carrying out regular inspections and audits. Always check that what they're doing is in line with the environmental permits for that activity. 

Be alert to reports of:

  • more lorry movements than you would expect for their type of business
  • activities on site at any hours of the day and night
  • evidence of unusual odours or pests
  • complaints from nearby tenants

These could be signs that your tenants are not operating as they said they would.

Act immediately if there is an issue on site

If you discover issues on site, take action straight away. You must show that you will not allow these activities to continue.

Report problems to us immediately by reporting an incident (24 hours a day, seven days a week). 

Make it clear to tenants that you are not allowing any more waste on your site. 

Your legal responsibilities

It is an offence to allow controlled waste which does not have an appropriate permit or exemption, to be kept on your site. 

As a landlord, you do not have to be directly involved with the waste itself to be held liable for criminal activity.

You will have no defence if you say that you didn't know waste activity was illegal, but you knew it was taking place and you allowed it to continue.  

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