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Waste crime warning to landlords

Landowners and landlords are increasingly becoming victims of waste crimes and being saddled with the cost of removing waste from their properties.

As the effects of Brexit loom, waste disposal costs look set to increase and abandoning waste begins to look more and more financially attractive to unscrupulous tenants and operators.  The BBC has recently reported a growing “crisis” in illegal waste removal services, with London and Manchester the hardest hit. The National Farmer’s Union have said that the situation “continued to spiral out of control”.

Waste crime is classed as the illegal disposal or mismanagement of waste and can range from the illegal dumping of household or industrial waste all the way to fraud involving recycling fees and landfill tax.

For landlords, waste crime normally occurs in one of three forms.

  1. when waste is fly-tipped on a landlord’s site.
  2. when a tenant cannot afford to clean the site upon their departure.
  3. when a criminal organisation leases premises with the intention of using them for illegal waste activities.

We have been approached by landlords who have been scammed by tenants with criminal intentions, where a seemingly legitimate tenant negotiates a lease with the aim of filling the site with waste. After pocketing the money received from the waste producer, the tenant abandons the site (and the waste). In most of these cases the legal remedies are very limited.

One recent case saw a landlord saddled with a bill of nearly £350,000 and an Environmental Agency investigation, after a sub-tenant abandoned a property full of fly-infested waste.

One of the most important ways to prevent this happening is to improve risk management. By incorporating a stringent vetting process for potential tenants and being aware of the condition of the site throughout the tenancy, landlords can significantly reduce their risk of falling victim to waste crime.

Craig Burman, Partner Environmental and Regulatory and Duncan Spencer of Edia Limited explain in full here.

To discuss this article, or to find out how we can help you as a landlord, please contact a member of the team on 0113 849 4072 or email


About the Author

Craig Burman


Craig advises on contentious and non-contentious environmental, health and safety and regulatory matters. …

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