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Meth Contaminated Housing Nightmare

 

Imagine buying your dream house, only to have it turn into a seemingly inexplicable nightmare. Health problems, odd relationships with your new neighbors… all the result of the house having previously been used to be a meth lab, or a meth hangout.

This is a growing problem in today’s housing market: people buy houses and then are left to fix the toxic mess they unknowingly purchased at their own expenses. Unfortunately, there is no federal standard that requires disclosure of a known meth haunt, and the histories of many of these homes are not even known to the real estate agents selling them. Thankfully, there are a few signs and tips that could prove to be helpful to avoid this horrific situation.

There are a few ways that families and joyful new homeowners find out that their houses are contaminated by meth. In some states, the requirements only go as far as superficially decontaminating a meth house. Others don’t require any disclosure. Only Colorado seems to use federal grants to help deceived homeowners clean an already purchased house if it shows traces of meth.

Oftentimes, there are foreclosed or abandoned houses that are sold in the once-again-burgeoning housing market. Sometimes, families are told about their homes’ pasts when neighbors let them know about the former owners’ habits or a police takedown that occurred at the residence. In other instances, mysterious illnesses tip off owners to something being wrong.

Take, for instance, a family whose children began experiencing serious respiratory illnesses as the adults experienced migraines and kidney problems. When they tested their house, they were astonished to find large traces of methamphetamine and even more astonished when their illnesses lessened after they moved out of the contaminated house. Unfortunately, many if not all of the cleaning expenses—which can range into the hundreds of thousands of dollars—fall on the new homeowners, leaving them in a state of wrecked credit and despair.

Fortunately, there are certain signs home buyers can look for in order to be aware of this problem.

Firstly, if the house was recently used as a manufacturing point for methamphetamine, there may be red flags, such as an unusual and unpleasant smell; or large amounts of chemicals, like acetone, muriatic acid, brake cleaner, and iodine coupled with tubing, dust masks and bottles lying around.

It can be harder to detect if the house was simply used to smoke meth.

So, it is suggested that such homeowners and renters speak to potential neighbors as well as local police to see if there were any reports concerning the house and its residents. Another bit of advice is to log online and check the DEA’s National Clandestine Laboratory Register. Once all of these are observed, it could also be helpful to use a test-at-home kit to test for methamphetamine contamination, and take it from there.

Although it isn’t necessarily fair, there’s not a lot that can be done about this growing issue. Only about 10 percent of meth labs are caught annually, and thousands more pop up each year. The only thing that can really make a difference is if there is an increased awareness amongst real estate agents and home buyers. The risks aren’t worth a low price.

So, buyer beware: your fairy tale home could have been a meth house months or even years prior to purchase, and it’s better to know this sooner than to find out once it’s too late.

 

Works Cited

Christie, Les. How to spot a meth lab. 12 February 2013. 21 March 2013 <http://money.cnn.com/2013/02/12/real_estate/meth-lab-house/index.html>.

Dewan, Shaila and Robbie Brown. Illnesses Afflict Homes With a Criminal Past. 14 July 2009. 21 March 2013 <http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/14/us/14meth.html>.

Kennedy, Bruce. Meth-contaminated homes are a growing hazard. 21 March 2013. 21 March 2013 <http://money.msn.com/now/>.

McGhee, Tom. With meth-contaminated homes, it’s buyer beware. n.d. 21 March 2013 <Times-Standard.com>.

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Filed under: Alcohol and Drugs · Tags: Crystal Meth, meth, meth contamination, meth hangout, meth house, meth lab

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