If a residential or commercial property is used to manufacture meth, the level of contamination when production ends for one reason or another will be profound. Indeed, the extent of meth contamination can be so significant that it presents a very real health risk to any person who comes not in contact with the property. Real estate professionals in the 21st century need to be aware of the impact the existence of a meth lab does have on residential and commercial real estate going forward into the future. Real estate professionals need to appreciate the growing importance of being able to give a property up for sale a proverbial “clean bill of health” when it comes to the issue of meth contamination.
Although contamination from a meth lab is the most notorious and most significant, there are other ways in which methamphetamine can pollute real estate. The three situations in which real estate can be contaminated by meth are:
- Meth labs
- Meth storage
- Meth use
Meth Lab and Real Estate Contamination
The operation of a meth lab typically results in the most significant level of contamination that a real estate professional needs to consider. The drug itself can significantly contaminate the premises where a meth lab is operated. Methamphetamine has a terribly long half-life. What that means is that meth will not readily dissipate on its own and will continue to contaminate a property for years.
There are other chemicals used in the making of meth that can contaminate a property as well. These potentially include:
- Hydrochloric acid
Because of the high level of contamination that exits after the operation of a lab, governmental HAZMAT crews oftentimes are involved in an initial meth cleanup process. This typically takes place when an arrest occurs or an investigation is underway that results in the discovery of a meth lab.
A HAZMAT operation is designed to eliminate equipment and deal with some more substantial residue in the aftermath of a meth lab operation. More intensive meth cleanup or meth decontamination is nearly always required to return a property to a livable or usable condition.
Meth Storage and Real Estate Contamination
Another way in which meth contaminates a property is when it is stored at a location. For example, a meth cook is more than likely to use a location away from a lab to store the methamphetamine manufactured. A meth dealer will store the drug as it is being sold. Any site used for storage of meth en route to being sold is almost certain to end up contaminated. In such a situation professional meth decontamination will be necessary.
Meth Use and Real Estate Contamination
What surprises many people is that the use of meth can also contaminate a home, motel room, or some other location. This particularly is the case if a person smokes meth over the course of a more extended period of time – which oftentimes is the case for a meth user. Because meth contamination accumulates in this manner professional meth remediation is also a recommended course of action.
Mandatory Residential Real Estate Sales Disclosures and Meth Contamination
Across the country, each individual state has established a set of mandatory disclosures that must be made by a seller in a residential real estate sales transaction. California and 26 other states currently require the disclosure of prior existence of meth contamination in a residence. Such a release of information must be made as part of the other mandatory disclosures required by law by a seller during a residential real estate sales transaction.
The comprehensive list of states that have a mandatory disclosure about prior meth contamination in a residential sales transaction includes these jurisdictions:
- South Dakota
- New Mexico
- West Virginia
- North Carolina
- New Hampshire
In California, the state has created a comprehensive handbook regarding the disclosures that must be made in residential and other types of real estate sales transactions. The Disclosures in Real Property Transactions handbook includes information about disclosing prior meth contamination on a property. This includes the form a home seller can utilize to appropriately disclose prior meth contamination at a property for sale.
Meth Inspection Before Putting a Property on the Market
We’ve already discussed the legal disclosure requirements in California and elsewhere when the existence of a meth lab or a similar situation is known. The dangers of meth raise a fair question as to whether testing or sampling should occur at a property before it is placed on the market for sale. At the present time there is no broad requirement for this type of testing to occur in California.
With that said, testing and sampling is not costly. It can be obtained from a professional like a meth cleanup company. By taking this approach, a property owner and a real estate professional are in a position to provide a proverbial clean bill of health when it comes to the issue of possible meth contamination.