Methamphetamine is one of the fastest growing illegal drugs in the U.S. Not only is it a problem for law enforcement and users loved ones, but also for home buyers and sellers and their agents and brokers. In the 2007 NAR Legal scan, real estate agents ranked meth disclosure in home sales as one of the top legal issues that will be growing in importance over the next few years.
Meth labs could be manufactured anywhere from a suitcase to a home. These labs are usually not a permanent facility, it could even be made in a coffee pot. It could be a home you are leasing to the “cook” or one being considered for purchase. These home labs leave contamination and severe health risks even after the drug is no longer being made in the residence.Contamination caused by the "cooking" and disposing of Meth inside a home will affect: floors, walls, ceilings, working surfaces, furniture, carpeting, paneling, wallpaper, draperies, blinds, light fixtures, kitchen appliances, plumbing fixtures and drains, vent fans, ceiling fans, heating and air-conditioning vents, clothing, toys, etc. Outdoor contamination could be present as well due to the disposal of the waste products from the manufacturing process.
How to spot a meth house, Strong ammonia odors Excess amounts of cold medicines Propane tanks with blue colored corrosion on the fittings or tampered valves Excess items like matches, lithium batteries and baggies lying around Cookware with white residue Windows darkened or covered with foil Discolored patches in yard where excess chemicals may have been disposed Dead trees and landscaping.
Law enforcement agencies that have identified a house as the site of meth production clear out the major chemicals and other items, making it much more difficult for someone to tell meth was made there. Doing a little research on what a typical meth lab looks like could be the best protection for a real estateagent or broker.
Companies offering crime-scene cleanup services often provide methamphetamine cleanup. On the Web sites of several of these companies, the businesses note they follow the cleanup standards as mandated by the particular state or states in which they operate.
Payne said he recommends anyone who is attempting to sell a home that was formerly used to manufacture methamphetamine first contact the public health department in their municipality to find out what is required to have the house properly remediated.
Cleanup costs aren’t cheap. They can run from a few thousand dollars to $50,000 or more. Remediation can involve tearing out carpets and padding, cleaning HVAC systems and even tearing out walls down to the studs, as the residue can seep into sheetrock. In some cases, the only way to truly rid a house of toxic residue to is have it torn down.
“There are some who believe that the best way to re-mediate a meth lab is to tear the house down. That’s not always the answer people want. It can be very, very painful, costly, time consuming and damaging.
Unfortunately the people who are paying for this are ones who had nothing to do with meth.