Meth and the Residential Landlord

The manufacture and use of methamphetamine, a highly dangerous, addictive and illegal drug is rampant throughout the United States. Usually it is manufactured in clandestine labs in trailers and homes in remote areas. Due to the severity of the problem, law enforcement has been making methamphetamine eradication a major priority. The manufacture of methamphetamineMethamphetamine can be manufactured in any room of a house, trailer or apartment. The chemicals used are commonly available from the hardware store, paint store and online from chemical supply houses (“if it burns your eyes, you can make meth with it”). All the ingredients used in the manufacture of methamphetamine are completely legal. Many of these ingredients are highly flammable, volatile and poisonous. Often a methamphetamine lab is discovered due to a fire or explosion. What to look for during your inspectionsAn operating methamphetamine lab will be simple to spot. You will see chemicals, propane tanks, burnt cookware, glassware, bottles of chemicals, and be struck with the odor of the noxious substances used in the manufacturing process. The problem is that in order to see it, you will need to enter the unit. Many property manager fail to conduct regular inspections of their properties and assume if the property looks nice and neat from the outside, an interior inspection is not necessary. All landlords need to implement a policy of routine interior and exterior inspections with forty-eight hours’ written notice. The interior inspection may be conducted less frequently than the exterior inspection, but in any event, inspections must be done on a regular basis. Items which could indicate a methamphetamine labGlass jars with liquids or residues Large numbers of boxes of over-the-counter cold tablets Bottles of red phosphorous, iodine, sulfuric acid, hydrochloric acid, marked and unmarked bottles with colored or white solid on the bottom. Coffee filters Strong noxious orders Laboratory type glassware Burnt cookware or frying pans Kerosene, paint thinners, acetone and starting fluid Piles of rechargeable batteries Propane tanks Pressure cookers Gasoline cans with tubing. Note: Almost all the above listed items are common by themselves. It is the collection of the items in one area which should raise some serious suspicion. You have discovered a methamphetamine lab, now what?If you feel that there is the manufacture of methamphetamine on the premises, you should notify local law enforcement immediately. You should insist that they come with you to do an inspection, as often law enforcement does not immediately wish to shut down drug operations, but unfortunately want to watch the unit in question in operation for an extended period of time to get the “bigger fish”, or arrest a larger number of people. Notify your attorney immediately, and do not serve any notices without the attorney’s consultation and advice. Remediation and the lawMany states are enacting laws which require complicated and expensive testing and remediation procedures based on the presence of certain chemicals in a rental unit. Sometimes the amount of the chemical needed to trigger remediation is so small, it borders on absurdity. Some states have enacted laws which will require disclosure to future tenants or adjacent tenants. To my knowledge, the readership of this newsletter is unaffected by such ordinances.

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