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.

(Continued)

“There’s nothing in the rules that say you have to clean a meth house,” Milburn said. “It says you can’t live in a meth house.”

Matt Duncan, owner of Bio-Meth Management LLC, who has decontaminated around 20 residences in Kokomo, said cleaning up meth residue can be an expensive process.

For a small area like a one-car garage, he said, clean up could cost $1,500. For a large, two-story house, owners may be looking at a $20,000 bill.

It’s a pricey undertaking — one that many homeowners can’t afford. If it doesn’t get clean, then that’s usually the end of the line. Unless the city decides to demolish it, the house sits vacant. Then it becomes a health hazard.

“It’s a bad thing,” Milburn said. “If it sits there long enough, the windows get broken out and kids start messing around in it. It’s not good for the community, it’s not good for property values and it’s not good for the kids messing around in it. It’s just a bad deal all the way around.”

And while the city waits for owners to clean up the property, things can happen, like banks taking the house over and putting it back on the market. That’s what happened to the property on Purdum Street.

It may be illegal, but there’s little recourse to stop it.

Kokomo Deputy Fire Chief Nick Plover said if officials learn someone is trying to sell or rent a meth house, they inform the owner it has to be decontaminated. If people are living in a meth house, they have to leave. Beyond that, Plover said, he doesn’t know of any legal options.

Kokomo Police Sgt. Melton said officers do their best to monitor condemned meth houses, but they only respond to the properties if they suspect criminal activity.

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