The fictional character Brian Aldridge in The Archers recently got into hot water over waste that had been dumped by a long since disappeared tenant, but this also serves as a real life warning. The Environment Agency is calling on landlords to be extra vigilant as industrial units, together with farms, derelict buildings and abandoned factories are being targeted by criminals to dispose of illegal waste.

Waste can be dumped at such properties without the landlord's knowledge, or criminals pose as legitimate tenants in order to store illegal waste at such properties. Once the waste is discovered, landlords are burdened with expensive clear up costs and can also face criminal prosecution, fines and even custodial sentences for breaches of environmental law.

The Environment Agency is therefore urging landlords to take the following steps to avoid being victims of waste crime:

  • check empty land and property regularly and make sure it is secure;
  • carry out rigorous checks on prospective new tenants;
  • be aware that financial offers to temporarily store waste are likely to be scams and the waste will likely never be collected;
  • report any unusual behaviour to the Environment Agency; and
  • if approached to store baled waste, or wrapped bales of any kind unless absolutely sure what the contents are, refuse the material and call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

In addition to the practical problems and financial risks posed to landlords by illegal waste dumping, a further reminder to landlords that they may be committing an offence by allowing waste to be temporarily stored on their land without the relevant permissions.