Utah meth lab law left Rachel and Adam Spencer and their babies unprotected from the health and financial consequences of renting a contaminated meth lab home. They say the heartache and suffering that they have been through could have been prevented for $45. This is their story.
When Rachel and Adam Spencer rented an apartment in West Jordan, Utah, in 2006, no one told them it was a meth lab. Although the apartment was dirty, it wasn’t beyond being cleaned – they thought. Like many young couples, they took on the task and worked hard to turn it in to a wonderful home. But, despite all of their efforts, the dirt kept coming back.
Rachel described the difficulty they had as they tried to clean their home, as “black oil that would seep through the walls; and no matter what you did to the wall, you couldn’t clean it off.” In November 2009, they found out, what should have been told to them 3 years earlier.
Shortly after moving in to the home, they each began to experience unusual health problems. Adam developed hives that were so severe, that they blocked off his airway. Rachel began to suffer with severe headaches. Both began noticing that they were also having problems remembering things, like who they were speaking to and what they were speaking about, in the middle of phone conversations. Although, they didn’t know it then, their health problems were just the tip of the iceberg.
They were happy when they found out that they were pregnant again.
But, doctors soon discovered that their beautiful baby girl, Zoey, had heart problems; heart problems that are so severe, that doctors say she may need to have a heart transplant.
Doctors can’t say for sure that Zoey’s heart problems were caused because of their contaminated meth lab home. Adam and Rachel have no doubts that it did.
Tests for allegens, mold, and meth told the toxic story, that their landlord never did. The house tested positive for meth. They moved out of the house with the clothes on their back. They were told to leave the house and take nothing with them. Everything, they were told, is contaminated.
When they confronted the apartment managers with the news that they had rented them a contaminated home, they claimed they had no idea that someone has used meth in the apartment. When asked what they would do to help them, the management of the complex offered them no help. In fact, they told them that they were victims too. I can only imagine the thoughts and words that must have been running through the Spencers mind on that day.
Ignorance about what the previous tenants had done in the apartment, didn’t change the facts. The test that the Spencers had in-hand, was positive proof that the apartment was unsafe to live in. On the advice of their lawyer, the complex began the decontamination process of the Spencer’s apartment. It was a step that came too little and too late for the Spencer family.
All of the health and financial losses that the Spencers have been made to endure, could have been avoided, if the apartment complex had tested the apartment before they allowed anyone else to move in. The test would have cost them $45. The Spencers now worry how long they will have to pay with their health.
So, the apartment will soon be available for rent again and the money for the decontamination they’re paying for will be paid back to them. But, there is not enough money in the world to pay back what the Spencers have lost.
Meth Lab Homes comment:
Utah legislators are now considering changing their disclosure law to require that rental homes be tested, before anyone can occupy them. It is my hope that law will also require home sellers to certify that the home they’re selling is also free of toxic chemicals.
If you’re thinking it’s not a problem for you, because you don’t live in Utah, think again. No state requires that testing be done on homes before they are rented or sold. None. Keep that in mind, if you’re planning on renting or buying a home, no matter what state you live in. Please let your legislators know that you expect your state’s disclosure and decontamination laws to protect renters and home buyers!
For more information:
Read more about what happened to the Spencer family on ksl.com and watch their video interview.
ksl.com, “Couple warns renters to beware after state meth laws fall short”, http://www.ksl.com/?nid=695&sid=8726504. publication date 11/18/2009, accessed 1/29/09