PEEBLES – Linda Brown and her family bought a home in Peebles in 2011 for what they believed was a good price, but they soon found out why they got such a steal on the property.
Linda and her husband Tom bought the property for $25,000 from Greentree Servicing LLC, a Minnesota based company, through a repossession. However, the couple soon found out after moving in that the house was formerly used to cook methamphetamine.
The property can be found on the United States Drug Enforcement Administration’s website listed on the National Clandestine Labratory list and has been listed there since 2008. Brown and her family feel they should have been notified by the seller that the house is a former meth lab.
“There should be some kind of law to prevent this,” Brown said. “They should have to disclose that you’re buying a former meth lab. You get to know if there’s a sex offender living near you, but they can’t tell you if you’re moving into a place like this?”
GreenTree Servicing LLC told the People’s Defender they would not speak to anyone about properties who doesn’t have an account through their company.
Brown said she began looking into the history of her property after she received a letter from a lawyer claiming to have represented others in the area about unknowingly purchasing a former meth lab. From there she stumbled upon the DEA’s website and brought it up to the Adams County Health Department.
“The county said we could pay to have the house tested and then if they found meth we’d have to leave the house while they clean the house,” said Brown.
That testing and cleaning would have to be done by a private company according to Director of Environmental Health for the ACHD Jason Work since the county doesn’t have the funds available.
“We don’t do the testing,” Work said. “I know through some private companies mold is a couple of thousand dollars to get tested and last I heard asbestos was $500 for three samples.”
In addition, in Ohio there are currently no laws requiring cleanup of former meth houses before they can be sold again, but the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency has recommendations on how to clean a former meth house on their website.
A bill is currently in the Ohio House of Representatives introduced by Representatives Marlene Anielski and Emilia Strong Sykes to combat this issue. The bill would require a health board to declare a former meth house a public health hazard that may not be occupied again until a remediation contractor completes a rehab project on the property.
Sykes, who holds a Master’s in public health from the University of Florida, said this bill is aimed at making sure people remain healthy.
“Even though meth is starting to get less press since the heroin epidemic is taking over, people are still using meth,” Skyes said. “It’s easy to make. You can go to Walmart, get your supplies and cook it in the bathroom. We want to make sure people are healthy.”
In the meantime though, living on a limited budget, Brown’s family would have to pay for the repairs done and would have to find another place to stay during the repairs.
Brown said her family never thought to research if the house was a former meth lab while going through the purchasing process.
“It needed some cleaning up and a few repairs but structurally it seemed good, so we never thought about it,” Brown said. “I can’t believe there’s no law in place to protect people from this.”
Brown said there doesn’t appear to be much her family can do but continue living there.
“What can you do?” Brown said. “Unless you’re rich you can’t afford to have your house torn down. And it’ll be hard to resell this house now. If we had known this we never would have bought it.”
Brown’s concern for her family, which include a daughter-in-law currently pregnant and a 2-year-old granddaughter, is someone in her family falling ill because of the home. Brown claims to have seen a spike in cancer in the area for the past five or six years and wonders if this is a result of the effects of living in former meth labs.
Scienceline, an online magazine through New York University cited a 2009 study in the journal Toxicological Sciences which states that methamphetamine may cause cancer in humans.
“We don’t know the long term effects of this,” Brown said. “People could be getting cancer from something like this and we’re just living here.”