The question of when to disclose meth is a common one. In fact, we often hear from realtors, investors, and property owners wondering about the specifics of this requirement. And, of course, we’re always happy to help unpack the myriad of rules regarding testing and decontamination in Utah.
Most recently, we heard from a woman who inherited a home from her belated brother. (For the sake of privacy, we’ll call her Jane.) Evidently, Jane’s brother rented out a room in his home. And, based on what she found inside, Jane suspected the renter had used drugs on the property. As such, she needed to know state regulations about testing and when to disclose meth during the selling process.
Now, before we pass on the information we shared with her, we need to mention one detail. You see, laws regarding methamphetamine decontamination vary by state. For the purpose of this article, we’ll focus on the laws pertaining to Utah homes and properties. If you happen to live elsewhere, be sure to check with a local Certified Decontamination Specialist. They can tell you more about your area’s unique requirements.
Disclosing Household Meth in Utah
Jane wasn’t sure what specific drugs the renter may have used in the house. She described the various items and asked whether these might be used to smoke meth. We discussed her options with her, as well as the following regulations.
First, in Utah Code (Title 57, Chapter 27, Part 2) it reads:
“-if an owner or lessor of real property has actual knowledge that the property is currently contaminated from the use, storage, or manufacture of methamphetamines, the owner or lessor shall, in a real property lease, conveyance, or other transaction related to the contaminated property, disclose that the property is contaminated.”
Next, in The Seller’s Property Condition Disclosure form, you will notice that section C (of question 20) clearly asks whether you are aware of any meth contamination. (Be aware that most states require this form as part of selling a home.)
Now, we’re not lawyers, nor are we here to interpret the law. So if you have any questions about this information, you might want to seek legal consultation. However, be aware that Title 57 also grants a person the right to file a civil action to enforce this chapter. In other words, intentionally failing to disclose may lead to the court awarding damages, court costs, and attorney fees to the other party.
And yes, that really happens. In fact, we’ve seen cases where the buyers pulled the original owners, the lending company, and real estate agent as parties to the defendant’s lawsuit – resulting in sizable settlements. That is why we urge you, for your buyer’s sake as well as your own, to do your due diligence and disclose accurately and honestly.
Not Sure if There’s Anything to Disclose? Test.
As you might imagine, Jane was grateful for this information. However, she was still concerned about whether or not to disclose. You see, she only suspected the presence of drug residue and didn’t know which. As such, we recommended testing in order to take the guesswork out of the equation. Luckily for Jane, the results came back negative. In the end, she sold her brother’s home with greater peace of mind and confidence, which provided much-needed closure.
Of course, if there had been meth present, Jane may have unknowingly exposed herself and all her visitors to a dangerous substance. (And, discovering meth well into negotiations could have alienated any interested parties.) This demonstrates a fundamental and critical point in this discussion: it is always better to test and know rather than guess and hope for the best.
If you still aren’t sure about when to disclose meth, or if your current situation warrants testing, you may want to call a Certified Decontamination Specialist in your area. For help in Utah, feel free to call us for a free consultation. We’re happy to talk through your questions at (801) 888-6698.