Grow Op-portunities, a Modern Day Realty Dilemma
When buying a house we all know the pitfalls, and our realtor will guide us through any other nuances of house purchase that we may be unaware of. However, as with everything else, fads and changing lifestyles can move the goal posts and catch us all out! With this in mind, here is a cautionary note if you find yourself looking at ex-rental properties.
The reason that rental properties fall into a separate category is that the owner of a house always has to disclose facts about the property for sale, and also has to be truthful in this disclosure, for fear of a civil law suit. However, if he has recently rented the property, he may be justified in saying that he had no knowledge of any latent damage.
Therefore, if you buy an ex-rental home, and face such conditions as damp dry wall, or a mold that appeared in the basement after your offer is accepted, you may have no rebuttal. There may be grounds for him to legally deny responsibility.
Unexpected mold in a home could be a reflection on the changing face of modern day society. In some areas, realtors are reporting a comparative surge of properties on the market that have been used by the previous occupants for ‘grow ops’. Or more precisely, the people who have been living there have been growing marijuana secretly in the home. Quite often these homes are in quiet suburban areas on the average street.
Some areas have reported a 250% increase in grow ops in a two year period. The problem is not simply a West Coast one, as other more easterly regions have also been implicated.
If there is evidence to suggest that the house may have been used in this way, both the realtor and the owner may be faced with a dilemma. Even if they both have their suspicions, it is slanderous to accuse an ex-tenant of running a grow op, unless there has been a recent criminal conviction, so the situation is difficult and needs prudent assessment from the prospective buyer.
Once the property has been vacated, the toxic mould (from the high humidity required for growing marijuana) can grow unhindered. While surface mold is not so difficult to eradicate from a property, it could be a pointer for other problems. The intense humidity required for successful growing can also permeate the sheet rock which will react by crumbling inside. This may not be immediately noticeable, but will be expensive to replace.
On a positive note, it is difficult to eradicate the musty smell from growing and smoking marijuana so check an empty home for this type of smell – or alternatively, check for a very strong smell which may be used to over-ride it!