Renter converted Murrieta home into marijuana grow house, destroyed interior, owner says

Leticia Juarez Image
Monday, August 28, 2023
Owner blames management company after tenants destroy rental home
The owner of a Murrieta rental property says tenants destroyed a rental home and insists that the management company is also to blame.

MURRIETA, Calif. (KABC) -- For three years, neighbors in the Mahogany Hills community in Murrieta had no idea a criminal enterprise was operating in their neighborhood.

"I figured they worked night time jobs. Never really saw them during the day. They would come and go at night," said neighbor Josh Kegley.

Then two weeks ago, an electrical fire sent smoke billowing out of the rental home across from Kegley's home.

"The fire department crashed through the front door and found something very shocking. They found the house was converted into a cannabis farm," said attorney John Tiedt.

The once-beautiful home that touted marble floors and surfaces throughout was destroyed by the tenants who rented the home.

"It was a couple that purported to be employed. They had $125,000 in the bank, they seemed to be very credible to the management company," said Tiedt.

Police said the facility is a warehouse that was converted into a "super lab" used to extract honey oil.

Tiedt represents the property owner in a possible lawsuit against the property management company. He says the couple's identification and bank statements were fakes - but had the property management company verified their employment it would have been caught.

"At this point, we're investigating that very carefully. It seems to me that the management company never checked the inside or looked into or inquired of the tenants what they were doing with the house," said Tiedt.

The grow house is not just a concern for the property owner who will have to shell out thousands of dollars for repairs, but also for neighbors worried about their safety and property values.

"When you have property management companies that don't do their job that takes away the value of the home. So you are not only hurting that home, you are hurting every single neighbor, too," said Kegley.

The home is red-tagged - deemed too dangerous to occupy. Even so, it didn't stop the former tenants from coming back.

"After the sheriff red-tagged the home they came back on more than one occasion to take effectively the evidence of the crime away," said Tiedt.

He says they took equipment they used for their grow operation.

The property owner hopes her damaged home will serve as a warning to others, especially property managers, to check on homes they rent out.

"They have to go to these properties and inspect because it is a prominent problem, especially in the Inland Empire," said Tiedt.