Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Local News

January 26, 2014

Buyer beware: Meth-contaminated homes could be on the market

City officials combat onslaught of illegal drug labs, but home buyers still susceptible to toxic exposure.

There’s a house for sale on a dead-end section of South Purdum Street you could buy for $29,900. The property is in poor to fair condition, and sold as is.

You could buy it, but if you did, you’d be moving into a property contaminated by meth.

In September 2012, Kokomo police found an active meth lab on the property at 1719 S. Purdum St. and arrested three people for maintaining an illegal drug lab.

That same week, the Howard County Health Department condemned the house, like it does to every property where police discover meth manufacturing activity.

An Indianapolis-based company called Tax Lien Trust took ownership of the residence through a tax sale in February, and the house has been on the market ever since.

But it shouldn’t be. State law says any home polluted with meth residue must be decontaminated by a state-certified cleaner before it can be sold.

Nathan McCain, a trustee with Tax Lien Trust, said he was aware there was meth activity in the house, but there doesn’t appear to be any problem with it.

The health department disagrees, and the house remains condemned. County health officials say no one has cleaned the property to get rid of the toxic residue that could cause serious health problems to anyone who moves in, including liver and kidney damage, neurological complications and an increased risk of cancer.

“I wish they’d just burn the place down,” said 70-year-old Ray Prater, a retired Chrysler employee who has lived beside the house for the last 40 years.

Ever since it was condemned, Prater said, the property has become a target for vandals, and he doesn’t like living beside a former meth house.

“You know how kids are. There may be someone going in there and drugging up,” he said. “Who knows?”

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