What steps can I take to protect myself against buying a former marijuana grow-op?
A home inspection should be your first condition
While the weather may not be ready to co-operate, next week’s official start to spring will be a welcome sign for green thumbs throughout the province who are itching to get back out into their gardens.
However, the truth is, not everyone stopped gardening over these colder-than-usual winter months. Marijuana grow-ops hide in plain sight and no community is immune.
If you’re in the market for a home, it’s important to have a basic understanding of what damage grow-ops can cause, how to recognize the signs of a former grow-op and the steps you can take to protect yourself from owning a property that may be hiding some potentially dangerous secrets.
A grow-op can cause a broad range of structural and environmental impacts on a home. The warm and humid environment necessary for plants to thrive creates an equally ideal environment for mould to grow, which will have an impact on the air quality of the home. As well, the humidity could potentially cause structural issues.
The home’s wiring will likely have been altered to handle the power demand and, in many cases, to bypass the hydro meter. These alterations may compromise the integrity of the home’s electrical system and can pose a safety hazard.
Before going on the market, a former grow-op might receive only quick, superficial repairs to cover up the significant renovations and damage associated with its illicit use. Those repairs may leave the home unsafe by hiding the mould, the shoddy wiring and other issues that you won’t want to deal with in the future.
The trouble is, the warning signs can be tough to spot. So how do you protect yourself?
You can start by deciding to work with a registered real estate broker or agent because they are obligated to take reasonable steps to determine and disclose material facts about a property that would affect a reasonable person’s decision to buy or sell. That includes inquiring about the status of the house as a former grow-op, if that’s something you tell them you’re concerned about. Your real estate professional can help you navigate the process and ask the right questions, but chances are they won’t be qualified to report on the underlying condition of the home.
The best way to get an idea of any home’s condition is a home inspection. However, if a grow-op is suspected or known, it may take someone with advanced expertise to determine its impact on the home and estimate the cost of remediation. Think about bringing in an engineer to look into potential structural damage caused by the grow-op, an electrician to examine the wiring and someone to check the air quality or presence of mould in the home. At a minimum, look for a home inspector that has expertise with grow-op homes.
While it’s best to get a professional inspection, here are some of the potential signs that a home may have been a grow op:
By:Joseph Richer Registrar,Published on Thu Mar 13 2014
Joseph Richer is registrar of the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO). He oversees and enforces all rules governing real estate professionals in Ontario. Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org . Find more tips at reco.on.ca, follow on Twitter @RECOhelps or on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/RECOhelps .