Properties that have been used as a lab to prepare methamphetamine, or even as a place to consume meth, can easily become contaminated with meth residues. Such contamination can be seriously detrimental to the health of the occupants. Accordingly, contamination can significantly devalue what would otherwise be a perfectly good property.
For the above reasons, some experts recommend that prospective home purchasers increase their level of due diligence by making any offers conditional on a satisfactory meth contamination report.
How can you tell if a property is contaminated with meth residues?
To the naked eye, it is very difficult to spot houses that have previously been used as meth labs, let alone houses where meth has been consumed. This is largely because it is relatively easy to hide the smell associated with the manufacture and/or consumption of meth.
However, these are some warning signs that a property may be contaminated with meth resides:
- unusual rewiring or plumbing or the presence of extractor fans in unusual places
- signs of smoking inside the house, with piles of cigarettes outside the property
- etching or staining of concrete, particularly outside drains
- chemical stains around the kitchen sink, laundry area, toilet or storm water drains; and
- yellow/brown staining of the interior floors, walls, ceilings and household appliance surfaces.
Even in the absence of the signs listed above, it is still possible that a property is contaminated. Accordingly, it is prudent to obtain a contamination analysis report from an expert council-approved entity.
Will a LIM report identify whether a property is contaminated with meth?
If meth contamination has previously been identified, reported to the police and then reported to the Local Council, there will be a record on the LIM report which will also identify whether the property has been cleansed by a council approved entity.
However, if meth contamination has not previously been reported, then any existing contamination will not be recorded on the LIM report. Accordingly, a LIM report cannot be relied upon as an accurate indication of meth contamination.
Will a building pre-purchase inspection identify meth contamination?
Typically, the purpose of a pre-purchase building inspection is to assess compliance with building legislation including the building code. Inspectors usually have expertise as builders and ought to pick up on issues such as weathertightness and construction defects.
The detection of meth contamination is beyond the scope of standard pre-purchase inspection reports. Further, the lack of warning signs means that standard inspectors – who will generally not be equipped with meth contamination analysis tools or expertise – will not pick up on any meth residues.
Pre-purchase meth contamination testing
For the above reasons, legal advisors and property experts increasingly recommend that potential purchasers invest in pre-purchase meth contamination testing and make any offers of purchase conditional on the satisfactory result of such tests. Expert testing is relatively inexpensive and results take less than a day to process.