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Va. landlords don't have to notify renters if meth was made in home

By Lyndsey Price, lprice@wcyb.com
Published On: Apr 11 2014 05:02:48 PM CDT
Updated On: Apr 11 2014 08:21:06 PM CDT

Local law enforcement officers are working to educate future homeowners about a potentially dangerous situation.

Local law enforcement officers are working to educate future homeowners about a potentially dangerous situation.

If you see a sign like the one attached in this article posted on a home near you, it could mean local law enforcement have found an active meth lab inside the home. "Those contaminants can get on the floor, they can get in the carpet, they can get on the paint. Anywhere in the room," says Washington County, Virginia Sheriff Fred Newman.

Sheriff Newman tells us that's why they post the sign on the dwelling, so members of the community can be aware. "We rip the carpet up if it does have carpet, repaint, air out, or ventilate the apartment as much as possible that could be done. But again, in a lot of cases that's not what happens," he said.

We learned that's because right now Virginia law doesn't require it, nor does it require property owners to notify new renters that hazardous materials were found in the home. "In some ways the property owner is somewhat responsible, but there is not a responsibility for him to tell the next renters what was going on there maybe a couple of weeks ago," adds Newman.

Across state lines in Tennessee, the law is more strict. "Once they quarantine a property, they have to file a notice of meth lab quarantine with the register of deeds office. That would let any potential buyers know that property has been quarantined," says Kent Chitwood.

Sullivan County Assistant District Attorney Kent Chitwood tells us in Tennessee property owners are required to hire a contractor from a list the state gives them and meet certain requirements before anyone is allowed back in. "That contractor would come out and clean that property up or remove any hazardous waste," he said.

Chitwood tells us once the home passes inspection by the state, the owner is issued a certificate of fitness, which will also go to the register of deeds.

Both states tell us they want people to know exactly where they're moving and what hazardous chemicals could be in the home.

Sheriff Newman hopes to see stricter laws come to Virginia.

He also says if anyone is thinking about renting or purchasing a home in Washington County, Virginia, they can contact the sheriff's office to ask if any active meth labs have been found previously at the home.