Editorial: Pennsylvania Should Require Methamphetamine Disclosure

Methamphetamines can kill.

Illegal drugs themselves can be deadly, but it doesn’t stop there. Laboratories are dangerous when in operation. They give off gases. They can explode. They’re a powder keg that should be handled like a ticking time bomb, but illicit drug makers aren’t notoriously careful.

The labs continue to be dangerous thereafter. The manufacturing process is a ghost that haunts the property, causing health issues as simple as skin irritations or headaches or life-threatening long-term cancer. It’s no surprise, because meth labs use toxic chemicals like pesticides and nail polish remover to mix their product.

So are you sure your house wasn’t an old meth lab? If you live in Pennsylvania, don’t be so sure.

A Spotlight PA story revealed the gaps in the state’s requirements for disclosing meth activity when selling a property — namely, there is none. Landlords don’t have to tell their tenants that the apartment they’re moving into has been used to manufacture illegal drugs.

It is a significant problem. This is all the more serious when there is a housing crisis which drives up sales and rental prices. It’s bad enough living in a toxic drug den. It’s even worse when the state doesn’t require you to know about it. The absolute worst? Pay top dollar for the privilege.

The State must remedy this by protecting all those concerned.

Requiring that a meth lab property be identified when it is sold or rented helps the tenant or landlord by preventing them from unknowingly living in a home that could make them sick.

At the same time, requiring a seller or owner to make this disclosure can prevent them from losing a sale if the information is discovered some other way. This can prevent real estate agents from investing time and effort in a dangerous property.

And more than anything, it can encourage the proper and safe remediation of properties so that they are actually safe instead of just camera ready. This benefits the community as a whole by removing toxic materials from the environment.

There’s no reason it shouldn’t be done. There’s no reason it shouldn’t already be the law. Sellers are required to disclose “material defects”. Problems with things like termites or basement flooding or a leaky roof need to be revealed. Legal issues with the deed should be noted.

A home that could cause cancer would certainly have to meet the level of mandatory disclosure.

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