Utah meth lab disclosure law

Utah law requires the owner of a property, not the realtor, to disclose whether a home has been used as a meth lab. The Governor signed Disclosure of Methamphetamine Contaminated Property Act on March 24, 2009.

The Disclosure of Methamphetamine Contaminated Property Act, sponsored by Merlynn T. Newbold and D. Chris Buttars requires a property owner or landlord  to disclose any knowledge that they have about  methamphetamine contamination of their property. The law includes “the use, storage, or manufacture of meth on their property”.  Failing to disclose meth contamination information to a buyer or renter, when a property owner has knowledge of it,  will subject property owners to lawsuits by anyone who buys or rents their property. The law says that the court can award money to the buyer or renter monies for damages, court costs, and reasonable attorney fees. Real estate professionals not  held responsible for non-disclosure under this law, unless they own the property that is being sold or rented.

Homes that have been used to use, store, or manufacture meth, without a police or other record,  “may” report  it to a government agency that is responsible for monitoring the decontamination process and documenting that the test results meet the state’s decontamination standards, according the wording included in the law.

Property owners who own contaminated meth lab homes can also be charged permit fees associated with the decontamination and the investigation of the property. Property owners can not be prevented from cleaning their own property by any government agency.

DISCLOSURE OF REAL PROPERTY
2009 GENERAL SESSION

STATE OF UTAH

Chief Sponsor: Merlynn T. Newbold
Senate Sponsor: D. Chris Buttars

LONG TITLE
General Description:

This bill enacts the Disclosure of Methamphetamine Contaminated Property Act.

Highlighted Provisions:

This bill:

requires a real property owner or lessor to disclose in a property transaction that the owner’s or lessor’s property is contaminated from methamphetamine use if the owner or lessor has actual knowledge of the contamination;

creates a civil cause of action for failure to disclose methamphetamine contamination; and allows a real property owner or lessor to decontaminate the owner’s or lessor’s real property.

Monies Appropriated in this Bill:
None

Other Special Clauses:
None

Utah Code Sections Affected:
ENACTS:

57-26-101, Utah Code Annotated 1953
57-26-102, Utah Code Annotated 1953
57-26-201, Utah Code Annotated 1953
57-26-202, Utah Code Annotated 1953
57-26-203, Utah Code Annotated 1953

Be it enacted by the Legislature of the state of Utah:

Section 1. Section 57-26-101 is enacted to read:

CHAPTER 26. DISCLOSURE OF METHAMPHETAMINE CONTAMINATED PROPERTY ACT

Part 1. General Provisions
57-26-101. Title.
This chapter is known as the “Disclosure of Methamphetamine Contaminated Property Act.”

Section 2. Section 57-26-102 is enacted to read:
57-26-102. Definitions.

As used in this chapter:
(1) “Contaminated” or “contamination” is as defined in Section 19-6-902 .
(2) “Decontaminated” or “decontamination” is as defined in Section 19-6-902 .
(3) (a) “Owner” means the holder of a legal or equitable title or interest in real property.
(b) “Owner” includes a shareholder, partner, operator, or other legal entity.
(4) “Real estate professional” means a licensee under Title 61, Chapter 2, Division of Real Estate.

Section 3. Section 57-26-201 is enacted to read:

Part 2. Disclosure of Contaminated Property
57-26-201. Disclosure of contaminated property required.

(1) Subject to Section 57-1-37 , if an owner or lessor of real property has actual knowledge that the property is currently contaminated from the use, storage, or manufacture of methamphetamines, the owner or lessor shall, in a real property lease, conveyance, or other transaction related to the contaminated property, disclose that the property is contaminated.

(2) (a) If an owner’s or lessor’s real property is contaminated from the use, storage, or manufacture of methamphetamines, the owner or lessor may report the contaminated property to a government agency responsible for monitoring the decontamination process and documenting that the test results meet decontamination standards.

(b) Notwithstanding Subsection (2)(a), an owner or lessor whose contaminated property is reported in a police action related to the manufacturing of methamphetamines shall be subject to the provisions of Title 19, Chapter 6, Part 9, Illegal Drug Operations Site

Reporting and Decontamination Act.

(3) (a) A person may file a civil action to enforce this chapter.
(b) A court may award a prevailing party damages, court costs, and reasonable attorney fees for an action filed under this chapter.

Section 4. Section 57-26-202 is enacted to read:

57-26-202. Real estate professional not liable.

A real estate professional is not liable for an owner or lessor of real property making, or failing to make, a disclosure required by Section 57-26-201 , unless the real estate professional is also the owner or lessor of the real property.

Section 5. Section 57-26-203 is enacted to read:

57-26-203. Decontamination of real property.

(1) A government subdivision or agency may charge an owner or lessor a fee, in accordance with the provisions of Section 63J-1-303 , for:

(a) a permit issued by the subdivision or agency to decontaminate a property; (b) the subdivision or agency to determine whether or not the property has been decontaminated; and (c) any other related service provided by the subdivision or agency, including investigation or decontamination of the property.

(2) A government subdivision or agency may not prohibit an owner or lessor from decontaminating the owner’s or lessor’s real property.

Source: Utah State Legislature, http://www.le.state.ut.us/~2009/bills/hbillint/HB0404S01.htm

Comments

  1. Ray Clark says:

    I think your representation on the Utah law is incorrect. You indicated that it must be disclosed if the home was ever used as a methlab etc. I just read the Utah Law HB0404S01. The verbage in the law says is currently contaminated – in the present tense. This allows for a total clean up without a disclosure after it is gone. You ought to write it correctly in an article like this. Past tense vs. present tense verbage makes all of the difference!

    • Thanks for your recommendation, Ray. I will post the law so everyone can read it. I try to present the information here so others can learn by it and I appreciate anyone who tries to help me clarify what the law means. Your comment brings up an interesting point about Utah’s disclosure law.

    • Ray,

      I looked in to the situation in Utah further and found this info published in the Salt Lake City Tribune.

      ” Under Utah law, property owners are required to disclose to potential buyers or renters that a home is contaminated by meth – either through use or the manufacturing process.

      When it comes to meth, it must be disclosed unless it’s been properly cleaned up, said Ryan Kirkham, president of the Salt Lake Board of Realtors. But if a buyer specifically asks if a property has ever had meth contamination, even if it has been cleaned up, you have to tell them.

      But as in other states, this disclosure doesn’t always occur and pursuing a seller through legal means to cover cleanup costs can be difficult or might not yield anything if the seller is in prison or has little or no assets.” – Lesley Mitchell

      You can view the info on their site at http://www.sltrib.com/nationworld/ci_12831076

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