Another environmental concern

Over the past decade enforcement has cracked down on the production of methamphetamine, shutting over 100,000 homemade meth labs. Many of these labs were located in private homes. During production methamphetamine residue lodges in carpets, upholstery, drapes and other surfaces. When these former meth labs are sold unwitting buyers are exposed to the residue and suffer respiratory problems, severe enough in some cases to require the residents to vacate the homes. As reported in The National Journal on March 17 some buyers have sued the sellers and brokers involved in the sale for their failure to disclose the property’s former use as a meth lab. The article cites two state trial court decisions–Taylor Bean & Whittaker Mortgage Corp. v Wagner in Ohio and Bloor v Fritz in Washington–involving such claims; the Washington case is on appeal following the trial’s award of $94,000 in from the seller and broker to purchasers who were forced to move because of methamphetamine contamination. Fourteen have passed laws mandating that owners disclose their property’s use for production of methamphetamine, and 13 require that sellers clean up such former labs before selling them.

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  • Hannah

    I definitely don’t understand why only 14 states require the disclosure of such information because the harm it can cause inhabitants seems to go against public interests.
    Also, I don’t think that it should be responsibility of the seller to have to clean up the former lab, because they probably had no prior knowledge of it either and did not cause the harm to the house/property. I am assuming that if the people who originally set up meth lab were known they would be penalized with compensatory damages (and possibly punitive), but I am not sure who I think should be responsible for cleaning a former meth lab if the originators are unknown.

  • Richardson Bosquet

    I also support the courts original ruling of having the brokers and sellers having to pay for the damage suffered to those who bought such houses.

    But in the long run, for the benefit of the courts and the overall system, I think that instead of simply having it be mandatory to provide the information of whether the property was used as a meth lab, I think it should only be sold after it was actually cleaned.

    This could probably best be accomplished by making it mandatory for states with the highest occurrence of this problem to have the property inspectors check for this before the house is actually sold.

  • Alex

    I support this law. It’s sad to think about how little we may actually know about where we live. I mean I know that my water pipes may have lead in them, and our parking structure has toxins that may harm pregnant women. The more knowledge- the better we are in my eyes.

  • Geetika

    I completely agree with the law mandating the disclosure of meth production by owners and sellers, because it is a danger to the public’s health. Infact, this law of disclosure and mandatory cleaning should be passed and enforced in every state and not only for sellers, but also for landlords renting out properties. The tenants and buyers have the right to know about the potential dangers of living in a place. Also, this will give them more bargaining power in terms of deciding what rent/house price to pay for a property that has been used previously for such purposes.

  • JesseR

    Wow, I would have never thought of this (or to ask about this when I purchase a home/condo in the future). People always talk about wanting to know (or not know) if someone died in a house, but a home’s alternate use might also be a very relevant question especially if it can cause harm!