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P Labs: Make it a habit to ask

By Kay Keam - 24 May 2013 - 1 comment

We regularly see horror stories splashed across the front pages of the dailies, "Home buyers warned: Test for P", "Methamphetamine crackdown: Drug labs in houses" etc etc. But how much is just hype and how concerned should we actually be?

We believe it is prudent to keep the issue in mind when purchasing a property. Meth labs leave behind toxic chemicals that can poison a property long after the drug-making equipment has been taken away. Cleaning an affected house may cost more than $5,000.

It can be difficult to detect traces of Meth in a home. Generally vendors do not need to go out of their way to disclose the history of a property. Although vendors need to be very cautious when completing agency listings or hiding any damage, it is mainly up to purchasers to ask the right questions. If a vendor has knowledge that the property was used as a Meth lab and does not answer truthfully when asked directly, a claim for misrepresentation could arise. We recommend that you put any questions in writing and request that the vendor/agent respond in kind.

Of course, in the event that the property has been tenanted, it is possible that a vendor may not be aware that Meth has been manufactured there. In this situation a purchaser would be wise to do what they can to satisfy themselves that the property has not been affected. This would involve some form of testing which can be done as part of a pre-purchase or due diligence process. There are a number of providers who offer these testing services.


Kay Keam


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As if on cue, I received a call from a distressed person this morning who recently bought a property and subsequently discovered it had been used as a meth lab. The vendor had not disclosed this fact (and may not have known considering the property was tenanted) and the purchaser had not asked the question. After settlement, an interested neighbour advised that they suspected meth had been cooked in the house. Tests were subsequently done which revealed this to be true. The new owner was left with a bill of $5,000 to get the property cleaned.

All the more reason to ensure the right questions are asked in the appropriate way prior to signing an agreement. It is easier to negotiate cancellation or compensation prior to settlement, rather than attempting to chase down a vendor who has disappeared after settlement has been completed.

Mark Daviesreply

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