When you buy a foreclosed property it's hard to always know the history of the home. But if the home is an ex-meth lab it can cause serious health problems.
That's what happened to the Hankins family who bought a foreclosed home in Oregon using HomeSteps, a service by national housing organization Freddie Mac.
They got a good deal on the home but shortly after moving in the family began suffering health problems. Jonathan and his wife Beth starting getting serious headaches and mouth sores. Their 2-year-old son was sick a lot. Then they got a tip that their home may have been a meth lab.
The couple tested the house for methamphetamine residue and found 38 micrograms, reports ABC News. Oregon requires homeowners to keep levels below 0.5 micrograms.
Contacting Freddie Mac didn't get the couple far, since the meth use wasn't reported to the Oregon Health Authority. So they started a petition on Change.org to require Freddie Mac to test homes for meth and disclose the results to buyers just as they would for other toxic chemicals, like lead.
Selling a home is a serious transaction and the seller often has a responsibility to disclose anything 'material' to the buyer.
Material facts include any facts that would make a difference to the purchaser. That means being honest about any damage to the property, health and safety information, and anything that could pose a danger to new owners.
If you've recently purchased a house, those rules likely apply to your purchase too. If you think a material fact was left out contact a lawyer to find out what to do about it.
While Freddie Mac is sorry about what happened to the Hankins, a spokesman noted that they purchased the home 'as is.'
That means the buyer agrees to buy the home in whatever condition it currently is and the seller disclaims any responsibility for damage or problems with the property. It's an exception to the general rule.
Instead, Freddie Mac encourages purchasers to test the home themselves for any problems that might exist. It also says buyers can look online to see if the property is listed as a suspected meth lab on state and federal websites.
Legally it appears that Freddie Mac didn't do anything wrong but the Hankins are still hoping to change the policies. Their petition currently has over 200,000 supporters.