Meth – One More Item to Check-Off the Homebuyers’ List

30 Nov

A recent article on CNN.com highlighted the issues relating to houses that previously had methamphetamine laboratories in them.  You can find the article here.  The article is an important reminder of the long-term and serious effects that methamphetamine production can have on a house and the resulting importance for buyers to assure that the home that they are buying was not subject to that abuse. 

As mentioned in the article, the Federal Government maintains a list of addresses where local authorities have reported finding drug manufacturing facilities, which can be found here.  However, if the methamphetamine production is not known to local authorities, obviously, it will not appear on that list.  The burden of discovering the meth issue is, too often, a practical burden for the buyers to figure out via an inspection that is specifically aimed at methamphetamine detection. 

While sellers must disclose if they are aware that methamphetamine production occurred on the property, according to Minnesota Statute §152.0275,  the sellers involved in methamphetamine production are often unreliable and do not provide a source of recovery in the event that they fail to make such a disclosure.  Moreover, it is difficult for buyers to rely on a seller to voluntarily disclose that they are aware of activity on the property which may implicate that seller in a crime. 

Homebuyers, as well as real estate agents and brokers for those homebuyers, should be cognizant of the need to be cautious of methamphetamine production, especially in the current era of foreclosures.  It is certainly foreseeable that a home that was the site of methamphetamine was subsequently foreclosed, and the perils of purchasing that home await the subsequent buyer.  Even though Minnesota statutes, specifically Minnesota Statute §152.0275, require that sellers disclose any known methamphetamine production, since such disclosure may not be easily made by an “offending” seller or may not be known to a bank or other seller who has not lived in the property, inquisitive buyers or buyers’ agents might be well served to investigate police reports or other resources if they are curious about whether the property is known to be the site of methamphetamine production.  Another potential resource is the registrar of titles, where the statute requires affidavits to be filed in the event county authorities determine a property has been contaminated.

This blog entry is written by Chris Renz, a shareholder at Thomsen Nybeck. Chris practices in the litigation area of the firm with primary focus on wind energy-related lease litigation, real estate litigation, employment litigation, townhome and condominium law, and criminal law, particularly as the prosecutor for the Metropolitan Airports Commission.

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