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Meth Labs and Property Management

 

Meth is a highly damaging problem within residential properties, and the problem is on the increase. The combination of the ingredients used in the manufacturing of meth creates toxic contaminants that are absorbed into walls, flooring, and ventilation systems.

Once discovered on a property, a meth lab cleanup needs to be handled swiftly and professionally. The US Environmental Protection Agency offers guidelines for the remediation of former meth labs in the document Voluntary Guidelines for Methamphetamine Laboratory Cleanup.

Following a typical meth lab bust and after the police have removed the chemicals and equipment, the local health department will write a condemnation order and order the property owner to clean up the affected area. Cleanup costs can run between $5,000 and $30,000, plus the loss of rental income during the one- to two-month cleanup process. Although technically the resident is responsible for this cost, in reality most residents who are using or manufacturing meth do not have financial means to cover cleanup costs.

Given the liability assumed by property owners in terms of the cost of cleanup and the risk of exposure to new and existing tenants, the best way to protect your properties is prevention. Screening residents is the first line of defense; ask for proof of employment, credit history, criminal background checks, and landlord references. Having regular site inspections – once or twice a year at a minimum– is another important step property managers can take.

Hands-on professional property management can help avoid destruction of your properties, and is a must to navigate the complicated decontamination process should a meth lab be discovered. Have you had to deal with meth lab remediation at your properties?

Guest Blog Post by Karen Altes, Senior Manager of Online Communities for the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM).

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