My Meth Lab Home Story

When I bought my home in early 2004, I thought I was paving the way for a better life for my family. Now, just three years later, I am facing financial ruin because of it. You may be asking yourself, how did this happen? I know I have. You may also be asking yourself, why should I care? I’ll tell you why, because it could happen to you.

In early 2004 my family decided to purchased a foreclosed home in East Tennessee. We were living in Rhode Island and looking for a place we could raise our family where housing prices weren’t so expensive. The home, as we were told, had some cosmetic damages, but otherwise it appeared to be in good condition. We bought the house knowing that it would need some minor cosmetic repairs. We were never told it had been the home of a meth lab. In fact, we hadn’t even heard about meth labs until we moved down here.

So just how did we discover the home had been used as a meth lab? We found out the old fashioned way, from our neighbors. They informed us that the previous occupant had been arrested in a drug bust at the house. This was after we’d been living in the house for several months. We didn’t think much of it, because we didn’t know the extent of how dangerous it would be to our health and finances. I guess we assumed it was no different than other narcotics that, while dangerous to the user, have little impact on those around it. We pretty much shrugged it off and figured that’d be the last we’d hear of it. Boy were we wrong…

Fast forward to the year 2007. Work is going well and life seems to be looking up for my family. We are now in a position where we’d like to move out of our doublewide trailer home and move into a nicer home closer to the city. We had a realtor come by and the good news is that with a little work the home could sell for a bit more than we paid for it, which we thought was unusual since doublewides depreciate in value. Excited, we began to make plans to look at other homes. The realtor noticed some of the damage and asked about the home’s condition and about our prior purchase. We notified her of what we’d heard from the neighbors, and she became greatly concerned. Apparently many realtors are required to attend special training in Tennessee to learn about meth now. She began telling us how dangerous it can be and that we should try and research into exactly what happened.

We began our search at the nearby county sheriff’s office. They provided us with a copy of the police report. Sure enough, there had been an arrest in 2003 of several people at the home, and there were also various meth cooking tools and actual cooked meth confiscated. We spoke to our realtor and she advised us to get an attorney. We called dozens of attorneys, and each said they couldn’t handle this type of case and proceeded to refer us to another number. So did we give up? No, we dug further. We found out that a letter had been sent to various departments back in 2003 including the registrar of deeds in our county. We obtained a copy of this letter, a letter written by the arresting officer back in 2003, which stated the house could still contain contaminants because there had been a drug bust there. I called more attorneys and was again told that they couldn’t help me. I called the Department of Environment and Conservation and they recommended having the home tested. They also told me that it sounded like I was going to get stuck with the bill. What was that? It’s OUR problem?

The reason is became our problem was that we were a victim of the law, or rather, the lack of law.

  1. When we purchased our home in 2004 as a foreclosure, we were required to sign a notice stating that the seller (the foreclosing bank) was exempt from providing a property disclosure because they hadn’t lived in the home. This is standard procedure, so we signed it.
  2. The registrar of deeds in our county is not required to affix letters of this nature to the deed. This means, according to the title insurance company’s letter denying my claim, that a title search will not find any record of it, so they are not responsible.
  3. New laws passed in 2005 require all homes involved in meth lab busts to be professionally cleaned before anyone can live in or sell the home. Our home was purchased in 2004, so instead of being protected, we are now a victim of the new laws. We can’t sell our home because it hasn’t been cleaned. We had testing done, costing well over a thousand dollars, and have now been told that the home is heavily contaminated.

So if the bank claims they didn’t know about it, they won’t take responsibility for it. The realtor didn’t know because there was no record of it found by the title search company and because the bank didn’t know. The title search company didn’t know because the documentation on it is kept in a separate file at the registrar of deeds that is not part of the title search. It seems, rather conveniently for all major parties involved, that they are all exempted from any blame. Instead, our family of four, made of a working father, a stay at home mother, and two young preschool children are being told to suffer the loss.

We are trying now to contact attorneys who can help us do something about this. New laws in effect as of 2005 are protecting people now, but what about families like mine that have been left to slip between the cracks? We were not protected, and now we are victims twice over. Not only has my family lived amongst this hidden toxic contamination, but now we face the choices of paying huge cleanup costs and selling a house that will be forever labeled a former meth lab, or perhaps we can have the home destroyed and sell the land off. Either way, we face the distinct possibility of losing tens of thousands of dollars since we will not make enough to pay off the existing mortgage. We are asking for help. If you are a lawyer, or know a lawyer who can advise and assist us, please email us. We are just a working class family trying to make a better life for our children. Thank you for your time and support.

Click here for updates to our meth lab home story

11 responses to “My Meth Lab Home Story

  1. That is an astonishing story. If I were you, I would contact your congressman, senator, and local media. You have a very compelling story and you tell it well. You are yet another victim of crime; surely you are exactly the kind of innocent person that the government should protect from the consequences of criminality.

  2. Thank you firstly for the education you unfortunately are providing for others. Secondly, you must continue to be proactive in your calls making numerous contacts. Persistance will pay off..there must be at least one lawyer who will defend your rights!GodBless,Good Luck

  3. Thank you for your support. Please continue to tell others about this site so we can get this story in the hands of someone who can help us. Thank you!

  4. This story is becoming more and more common in all types of communities throughout our country.

    How do we protect the inccocent? Other realtors hate the idea, but I really believe any home identified as contaminated beyond safe levels should be listed on a federal register. Yes it stigmatizes the property. But, it will also protect innocent buyers.

    The tough part will be figuring out a reasonable way to assist thhose who currently own a contaminated home and did not know when they bought. Should they alone hold bear the cost of clean-up?

    Great blog. I commend you for your efforts to make others aware of this growing problem.

  5. I am an attorney writing an article on the risks associated with meth labs. An interest is young children who are family members living in meth lab homes. I am told that poisonious gases from meth lab production seep into and have a long life in household cottons including baby blankets and teddy bears leaving a damaging residue potentially harmful to these youngsters. I would like to publish a report to Children and Families, Guardian ad Litem, et al, warning caseworkers and volunteers taking small childern into custody after an arrest to be sure not to take suspected contaminated items with them. It is likely that they know this. I just want to make sure. Specifically what can a caseworker look for in the trash and elsewhere to raise suspicion that the home has been a meth lab and, if so, order a chemical survey for the best interest of the children? Respectfully asking for guidance and anecedotal reports. Bill Kramer.

  6. This story is so sad, but all too true. Unlike Tennessee most states have not even taken the initiative to mandate clean ups. Our company is in Florida, and there is no mandatory disclosure for former meth labs. Imagine that, you have to disclose lead paint or mold, but you can hide a former meth lab and let an innocent family move into it. Kudos to TN for actually doing soemthing about it. To reduce the costs you are facing for the cleanup of the meth lab you can empty the house yourself. That will save the meth lab contractors a lot of time and save you money. Most companies will allow you to pay on a payment plan. We offer that to our customers all the time w/ out finance charges. Good luck and feel free to call if you have questions.

  7. Spaulding… what else can you recommend that can help to save money for the owners of a former meth lab home?

  8. I have a question, how are the children affected by living in the house,that had been used for meth, what are the effects on them, our daughter is very bright , but is a little uncooridinated,not sure footed, I guess you’d say,a little clumsy,she is a dopted, but parents did live in a house they found out latter. people had done meth in , the parents of said child did do other things, she is in good health,but has this one problem,and I’ve wondered about that????
    Thank you

  9. The extent of the damage being done to children is not fully understood yet, in my opinion. Children are more vulnerable to the damage that meth exposure can do though.

    A child’s immune system, brain, lungs, and other organs are more susceptable to the negative effects of the toxins produced by the cooking of meth. If your daughter was living in a home where meth was being made, her risk of suffering from meth exposure problems is a strong possibility.

    I would talk to her doctor about what you’ve told me and ask him/her if she should be tested further. I’m sorry to hear that you even have to worry about the possibility that meth has damaged her health. Unfortunately, no one knows enough yet about the full extent of the damage that meth can do.

    I will be posting an article here soon about my grandson too, who may also be suffering from the effects of living in a home that was used as a meth lab, before my son unknowingly bought the home in 2004.

    God bless. I wish you and your daughter all the best. Thank you so much for sharing your story. We all need to share our experiences, if we want the government to take the action that needs to be taken to address a problem that is a danger to our health, our homes, and our communities.

  10. Hello – I am also sorry for your suffering. Has your family had any adverse health side effects? Would you know what those might be? I have heard living in a meth lab can be bad for kids, but don’t know of the effects of having lived in a cleaned up environment (both for kids, adults and pets).

  11. Thank you for your sympathy, DT. My youngest grandson is having some developmental problems, which may or may not be autism. Experts say that autism may be caused by a genetic component that is triggered by something in the environment. My grandson is still waiting for his turn to get an evaluation by a developmental specialist. Getting in to see a doctor who evaluates developmental problems is not something that you can do in a week, we’ve found out. There are not enough specialists and a ton of kids who need evaluations. It’s very frustrating and worrisome, as you can imagine.

    In answer to your second question, a home that has been properly cleaned should be officially certified clean. I wouldn’t move in to a home or apartment that the neighbors said was used as a meth lab, unless someone showed me an official certification. Testing a meth lab should be done by a certification contractor, not by the apartment or home owner with a $40 at-home test kit.

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