Residential Landlords Association (RLA)
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County lines: How to spot the signs of drugs gangs

The Home Office’s County Lines campaign aims to help landlords and letting agents spot the signs of County Lines.

What is County Lines?

The term county lines refers to urban gangs supplying drugs to suburban areas, as well as market and coastal towns, by using dedicated mobile phone lines or “deal lines”.

Gangs use children and vulnerable people to move drugs and money to these areas. Once caught up in county lines, exploited individuals are at risk of extreme physical and/or sexual violence, gang recriminations and trafficking.

How to spot the signs

As part of the awareness campaign, the Home Office has produced useful information for landlords and letting agents when it comes to spotting the signs of such gangs.

Anyone who is concerned should report such concerns to either the police, or anonymously to Crimestoppers, 

Some of the signs could be:

  • Visitors coming to the property at unusual times of the day or night
  • Suspicious smells around the property
  • A tenant getting more visitors, or a tenant who has stopped leaving the house
  • Curtains or blinds almost always kept shut
  • An increase in anti-social behaviour at the property

In addition to this, a tenant involved in County Lines might:

  • Offer to pay rent for a long period of time (for example six months up front)
  • Appear affluent, but want to rent an inexpensive property
  • Be unable to provide landlord or employment references
  • Prefer to pay rent in cash without justifying why this is the case
  • Prevent inspections at the property even when reasonable notice is given

Landlords and letting agents who have concerns that a prospective tenant might be involved in County Lines activity should report it to Crime Stoppers on 0800 555 111.


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