Minnesota Methamphetamine Disclosure in Residential Real Estate Transactions: Real Estate Radio Hour Legal Minute January 11, 2014

This week’s Legal Minute focuses on Minnesota’s requirement that whether a home has been formerly used to make methamphetamine (i.e., whether it has been used as a “meth lab”) must be disclosed in any sale of residential real estate.  To listen to Minnesota’s disclosure requirements, click here.

Houses formerly used as meth labs, called meth houses, put their residents at risk of serious health consequences.  Upon moving into a meth house, people have experienced short-term health problems ranging from migraines and respiratory difficulties to skin irritation and burns.

Long-term problems are less well known, but some studies suggest that methamphetamine chemicals may cause cancer in humans.

The chemicals used in methamphetamine production are highly toxic and range from pseudoephenadrine — the main ingredient in meth and an active ingredient in decongestants — to any one of 32 other precursor chemicals. These include acetone, the active ingredient in nail polish remover, and phosphine, a widely used insecticide. 

Home-cooking meth spreads toxic substances to every inch of the room where the meth was cooked and beyond. Nothing escapes contamination: the carpet, walls, furniture, drapes, air ducts, even the air itself becomes toxic. If a house has been used as a meth lab, it needs to either be decontaminated or simply demolished. 

 Because of these harmful health effects, Minnesota law provides that, before signing an agreement to sell or transfer real property, the seller must disclose in writing to the buyer or transferee if, to the seller’s knowledge, methamphetamine production has occurred on the property. If methamphetamine production has occurred on the property, the disclosure shall include a statement to the buyer informing the buyer:

(1) whether an order has been issued on the property finding that it is contaminated;

(2) whether any orders issued against the property have been vacated; or

(3) if there was no order issued against the property and the seller is aware that methamphetamine production has occurred on the property, the status of removal and remediation on the property.

Unless the buyer or transferee and seller or transferor agree to the contrary in writing before the closing of the sale, a seller who fails to disclose this information, and who knew or had reason to know of methamphetamine production on the property, is liable to the buyer for remediation costs and attorney fees. 

M.S. §152.0275, Subd. 2(m).