FHA, Meth Labs, and Due Diligence By: Francis X. (Rich) Finigan
The epidemic of clandestine drug labs in America goes straight to the heart of FHA’s three
S’s: Safety, Security, and Soundness. Environmental hazards or other conditions affecting
the health and safety of occupants, collateral security or structural soundness of the
dwelling must be identified in the appraisal report.
Determination of Defective Conditions Definition
Defective Conditions refer to defective construction, evidence of continuing settlement,
excessive dampness, leakage, decay, termites, environmental hazards or other conditions
affecting the health and safety of occupants, collateral security or structural soundness of the
dwelling. Standard the Appraiser must identify readily observable defective conditions.
(Excerpt from Single-Family Housing Policy Handbook, 4000.1)
Meth is an equal opportunity environmental and safety hazard that can impact any
property, no matter what price range or location. Meth labs have been discovered in just
about any city, large or small, can be found nearly anywhere, in uber-expensive lofts,
storage sheds, apartment buildings, upscale middle-class neighborhoods, etc.
Toxic waste and residue from these labs can contaminate all surfaces of a property where
cooking took place including walls and ceilings, carpeting and floors, and even appliances.
Meth cooks often pour leftover chemicals and by-product down household drains and
nearby storm drains, or directly onto the ground. This contaminates drinking water, wells,
Solvents and other toxic by-products used to make meth pose long-term hazards because
they can persist in soil and groundwater for years. Cleanup costs are expensive because
solvent contaminated soil generally must be incinerated.
One source of information regarding the prevalence of Methamphetamine labs is the
National Clandestine Laboratory Register, published by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency,
at www.justice.gov/dea/seizures. It is also worth the time to contact local law enforcement
agencies; they may have information that has not been shared with the DEA.
The production of methamphetamine is alarmingly simple, composed of readily available,
household items. The resulting chemical cocktail permeates nearly every surface of the Continue Reading