Family's Mystery Illness Caused by Ex-Meth Lab

By Andrew Lu on October 03, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Imagine that you just bought the home of your dreams, only to quickly discover that your home used to be a meth lab.

Jonathan Hawkins and his young family bought a foreclosed home in an up-and-coming area of Klamath Falls, Oregon.

However, soon after moving in, Hawkins' wife began experiencing breathing problems, Hawkins began having migraine-like headaches and nosebleeds, and their two-year-old son developed mouth sores, reports Yahoo! A neighbor later revealed that Hawkins had just bought himself a meth lab.

When you buy damaged goods in most every situation, you can demand your money back or seek a refund. Unfortunately, these same rules do not necessarily apply to the real estate market, especially when buying a foreclosed home.

In buying a foreclosed home, the buyer may be getting a great deal. The price for the homes tends to be severely discounted. But the trade-off is that the home is typically not maintained as well (or at all) and you are not purchasing the home from an actual individual seller. Instead, a government agency or bank may be the seller in the deal, and these institutions typically have very little knowledge of the intimate details of the home.

Sellers of foreclosed homes generally just want to move the homes off the market, and so sell the homes "as-is." This means that the buyer purchases the home with no warranties or guarantees; such as, the home not having been a drug lab. Jonathon Hawkins purchased his family's home as-is.

While sellers may not always have knowledge that the property they are selling was a meth lab, potential purchasers can do a bit of homework before purchasing a home to protect themselves:

  • Talk to Neighbors. A neighbor can usually give you some insight on who used to live in the home and why the home is now foreclosed.
  • Check the DEA's National Clandestine Laboratory Register. Look up the address of the home you are buying.
  • Contact the Local Health Department. Check if there were any past issues with the home. You may also want to check with the police if there were any crimes committed there.
  • Buy a Kit to Test for Chemicals. These kits are relatively inexpensive ($50) when considering the amount at stake when buying a home.

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