If you’re buying a home in Mississippi through a licensed realtor, you’ll notice something new on the seller’s disclosure form – methamphetamine labs. If a seller knows that the home was used to make meth, they are supposed to let you know by indicating it on the form. However, home buyers should not think of the disclosure as a guarantee that the home was never a meth lab. The home could still be contaminated, with or without the seller’s knowledge. Just because a realtor’s disclosure form doesn’t reveal that the home was a meth lab, it doesn’t mean that the home never was.
Pascagoula Mississippi resident and senior citizen Lila West spoke to WBLT 3 about her meth lab home. Her home and her garage were 42 times over the safe exposure limit. “When she came out and told me the house was worse than the garage I couldn’t believe it. And I still can’t believe it. Now I’ve been living here for 3 years in this mess,” said West. “Sir, I haven’t had a dime to have nothing done. And I doubt if I ever will.” – WLBT 3 “Contaminated homes on the rise in Mississippi” by Don Culpepper, July 5, 2008.
Sellers can only reveal what they “know” about the house. If a seller rented the home to someone who cooked meth in the house without their knowledge, for example, they could in good conscience check off “no” on the disclosure form. A seller could also lie on the disclosure form if they thought that no one else knew, that meth was cooked in the home. If there was no police or county health record of a meth lab on the property, the seller might try to sell the home without paying to get it decontaminated, saving themselves thousands of dollars in clean-up costs. That would be fraud, of course, but we both know that there are people who would be willing to do that; especially in this economy where “clean” houses are still selling at rock bottom prices. The slow housing market we’re in might also encourage over-zealousness on the part of realtors, realtors who might rush sellers in to filling out the disclosure form so they can get a buyer to make an offer on the home.
Anyone buying a home in Mississippi should know that meth disclosure forms only apply to licensed realtors. Buying a home from any other person or party in Mississippi will not require the seller to disclose whether or not the home was a meth lab. Be extremely careful when buying a foreclosed home, as banks often take them back from meth lab addicts and/or meth cooks who stop paying the mortgage. Non-payment of mortgages by meth lab cooks and or meth addicts can often result when the offenders are sent to prison. Keep in mind that when a bank takes a home back and sells it as a foreclosure, they don’t have to disclose the history of the home. Because they are not required to do that, don’t expect them to volunteer that information when you show an interest in buying the home.
My advice remains…..”do your homework!” Talk to the neighbors to find out about the history of the home. Neighbors often know more about the home, its occupants and their activities, than the local police force. Remember, not all meth labs are found by police. The meth lab busts that you read about in the newspaper and on the Internet are only a fraction of the meth lab homes that exist. The war on meth is an ongoing battle with new meth labs starting up every day in every state in the nation.
Mississippi Real Estate meth disclosure:
Are you aware of any problems which may exist with the property by virtue of prior usages such as, but not limited to, Methamphetamine Labs, Hazardous/Toxic waste disposal, the presence of asbestos components, Lead-Based Paint, Urea-Formaldehyde Insulation, Mold, Radon Gas, Underground Tanks or any past industrial uses of the premises? Yes ___ No ___
If “YES, please explain __________________________________