Pennsylvania Landlords Not Obligated to Disclose Former Meth Labs in Homes
Karen Baldwin moved a house in Corry last month, but says her landlord never warned her she was moving into a former meth home.
"He never told me that it was a meth house until after I came to him," she said.
It turns out Baldwin's landlord is not required to. There is no law in Pennsylvania that requires landlords to disclose or even decontaminate a home
where meth was cooked. "They should make a law that people that have meth houses should let people know or tear it down because they're not really fit to live in," said Baldwin.
The Corry Police Department confirmed to Erie News Now police did bust a meth lab in the basement of the home in March 2014. Baldwin says her landlord assured her the basement was decontaminated by State police. But State police told Erie News Now its Clandestine Lab Response Team only clean up meth labs for investigative and prosecution purposes, not for habitation.
With no physical proof that her basement was properly decontaminated, Baldwin is concerned her family's health is at risk. "It's still in the house, it's still in in the walls," she said of the lingering chemicals inside her home. "It's still in the ceilings; hey were never taken care of. So it's still pretty much in the house, where people can get sick and die from."
PA State Rep. Curt Sonney calls the issue a "silent epidemic" that needs to be fixed. "I do believe that there should be a disclosure," said Sonney, who serves the 4th District. "People should know when they're either renting and or buying a home that the property that they're considering purchasing is a healthy environment to live in."
Sonney says he's looking into what other states are doing when it comes to disclosure laws, and is considering the possibility of introducing legislation. "I know there are 17 other states that have addressed this in some manner," he said. "I need to do some research and see what they've done and go from there."
In the meantime, Baldwin is locked into a lease and forced to live in a house she says is putting her family's health in danger. "Am I gonna get my money back? Am I gonna get help to find another place?," she asked. "I don't even know nothing. I just know everyday that we are here, it could kill us."
Unusual strong odors like urine or ammonia, blacked out windows and excessive trash are all telltale signs of a former meth home, according to the USDA. A swipe test for methamphetamine for a single-family home can cost up to a thousand dollars. That only includes the test and lab results, not decontamination.