Everyone knows that being involved in a property that has been used for meth can be trouble, but most people don’t understand what that means. Utah laws provide explicit directions that must be followed and penalties including criminal prosecution for those who don’t follow the rules. A property owner who uses, or makes, meth must reveal this fact to future buyers. Even if meth is made in small, user quantities the property is a clandestine drug lab according to the law. Subsequent buyers have three years to test for drug contamination. If contamination is found during this period the seller is liable for remediation of the property, payment for associated health problems and all legal fees. The same rules apply for relatives and renters. The owner is responsible, but homeowners insurance will sometimes offer help. The only way for a property owner to be protected from liability, both monetary and criminal, is to have the property remediated as clandestine drug lab. When all the steps have been properly completed the qualified industrial hygienist issues a Decision Statement. If the Decision Statement is issued declaring the property safe for human occupancy, the owner is protected from future liability. If a property has been identified as a drug lab by a law enforcement agency and the owner notified, the property becomes a public health hazard and must be demolished or remediated. The owner is the responsible party who must prevent entry and properly demolish and remove the structures or remediate the property.
It is a crime to allow any unauthorized person to enter a known drug lab. This applies to persons of trust such as real estate agents and banking entities as well as private property owners. A real estate agent showing a property that he/she knows has been used for meth production or use can be prosecuted for criminal charges. The remediation process starts with a Preliminary Assessment prepared only by a qualified industrial hygienist. The Preliminary Assessment must be prepared in a specific manner with specific information. This document includes: descriptions of the property; the contaminated areas; the manufacturing process along with chemicals used; where they were used; sampling procedures; as well as other required information. Testing done with home test kits, by certified testers or home inspectors, can’t be used in substitution for any required testing or documentation. Using these tests for this purpose is fraudulent and may lead to criminal prosecution. Only the specific documentation required by the state and prepared by a qualified industrial hygienist will protect owners, real estate agents and lenders from liability and/or criminal prosecution. Any person who is not properly qualified who represents himself as a qualified industrial hygienist, or represents his testing as being in compliance with state laws is committing fraud and may be prosecuted accordingly. After a Preliminary Assessment has been prepared by the industrial hygienist, the property must be remediated according to the directives of the report.
If the property owner chooses to demolish the property, no Preliminary Assessment is required. After a property is remediated clearance testing must be done by an industrial hygienist who will issue a Decision Statement if the property is found to be safe for entry. The Decision Statement is the document that protects the owner and those involved in the sale of the property from prosecution and liability. No other documentation can be substituted for the Decision Statement. After a property has been identified as a clandestine drug lab it is illegal to remove any property without having it tested by the industrial hygienist. All property is assumed to be contaminated with toxic substances. Without clearance testing of every single item, each item must be disposed of as toxic waste. After they move into their new home, a subsequent buyer or renter of a contaminated property is likely to lose all use of their property until decontaminated or tested and cleared. A buyer has three years to discover meth contamination and sue the seller and associated persons and entities for damages. Loss of health and property and legal fees give these suits the potential for huge damage awards. A contaminated property knowingly rented would also put the owner/manager in a position to be liable for damages regardless of if the property has been identified by law enforcement. Involvement in a meth property is risky financially. Involvement in a meth property that has not been remediated and released to the letter of the law can lead to criminal charges as well as financial penalty. Meth contamination can have serious consequences for inhabitants, particularly children. The penalties of the law reflect the seriousness of the threat to future occupants’ health, financial security and general well-being. Damages can be tremendous and far-reaching. So can the penalties of being involved in a meth property. You can test yourself, or your children for meth that has been ingested from contact with contaminated surfaces. Saliva tests are accurate, easy to use, and private and take only 5 minutes.
Properties affected by meth
Landlords must provide a clean and habitable property. Tenants must not use the rental property for an unlawful purpose. This includes smoking or manufacturing meth. If landlords rent out contaminated properties, they may be breaching their obligations under the Residential Tenancies Act 1986. They may also be breaching other legislation such as the Building Act 2004 and the Health Act 1956.
The Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2019 allows for regulations to be developed to set out:
• maximum acceptable level for meth contamination
• processes for testing
• decontamination of rental properties.
Until these regulations are developed, landlords and tenants must continue to follow the current information, outlined below.
Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2019
Using, possessing, selling and manufacturing meth are offences under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975. Tenants who smoke, sell or manufacture meth in a rental property are using the property for an unlawful purpose. This is a breach of the Residential Tenancies Act. Tenants who cause meth contamination are also breaching their obligation to not intentionally or carelessly damage the property. In most cases, tenants will be found liable for damage from meth contamination caused by a tenant or their guests. The Tenancy Tribunal may order tenants who have used a rental property for an unlawful purpose to pay a penalty of up to $1,000.
On 27 August 2019, landlords can test for meth contamination during a tenancy, but they need to provide the correct notice before entering the property. At the start of a tenancy, landlords may include additional clauses related to meth testing in the tenancy agreement. Any additional clauses must comply with the Residential Tenancies Act.
Is Your Landlord Liable for Your Safety?
As a tenant in an apartment building or rental home, you may not realize that your lease also guarantees you the right to expect a certain level of safety and security. You should be able to go to sleep at night not worrying that a careless landlord has left you at risk for an accident or injury. If you are injured or attacked while living in a rental home, you may be able to pursue a lawsuit against your landlord or apartment complex to help pay for your recovery. For example, if a landlord fails to properly upkeep stairs and you are injured in a fall, or if an employee of the complex attacks or steals from you, your landlord could be found negligent.
Premises Liability Basics
Landlord responsibility falls under the umbrella of premises liability. To a certain degree (and subject to circumstance) whoever owns a property is responsible for injuries that visitors or tenants suffer.
A number of factors are looked at to determine reasonableness when it comes to licensees and invitees:
• Why was the person on the property?
• How were they using the property?
• Was the accident foreseeable?
• Did the owner make reasonable efforts to warn of existing dangers?
Negligence on the part of property owners is often the cause of slip and fall accidents. For example, if your landlord failed to install proper lighting or remove obstacles from a stairway or hallway and you are injured in a fall, it is at least partially the landlord’s fault. Every year, thousands of people sustain injuries ranging from a minor scratch to being crippled in slip and fall accidents. The National Floor Safety Institute found that 50% of all accidental deaths in the home are due to injuries sustained when falling. Injuries from falls account for more than eight million emergency room visits every year. Slip and fall accidents can result in broken bones, spinal trauma and head injuries, leaving you with costly medical bills. According to the National Safety Council, falls in the home most commonly occur in these areas:
• Areas that have uneven surfaces
• Crowded areas
Some of the most commonly treated problems associated with falling include:
• Broken hips and pelvic bones, especially among the elderly
• Broken arms and legs
• Back and spinal cord injuries, which are among the most painful and difficult to recover from
• Head injuries causing permanent brain damage, seizures, memory loss or impaired cognitive functioning
• Neck injuries
• Torn ligaments in the wrist, foot, or leg
Proving fault in a slip & fall injury
Your landlord’s insurance may cover your injuries automatically, or you may need to hire a personal injury attorney to assist with your claim. The law defines specific incidents where an owner or landlord is responsible for a fall that occurs on his or her property. To prove a property owner liable for your injuries, you must present evidence showing that either an employee or the landlord/building owner:
• Was aware of a potential hazard but took no action;
• Should have been aware of a potential hazard because an area posed an obvious risk; or
• Was directly responsible for your injury by creating a dangerous walking surface through spilling liquids, failing to maintain worn or damaged flooring, or other means.
Could you be at fault for your injury?
In order for the property owner or landlord to be found responsible for your fall, you must prove that you are blameless. The law considers all legal adults to be accountable for personal safety in most situations. “Wet floor” sign stories are an example of this, because adults should be able to read and follow such warnings.
In a personal injury claim you will want to:
• Confirm that you were moving conscientiously and not skipping, jumping or being otherwise careless.
• Make sure you exercised due care in observing where you were walking.
• Be certain you were not trespassing or in a restricted area.
If you are certain you could not have avoided the fall, you next need to prove that your landlord/ the property owner could have prevented it. Proving this may work a little differently, depending on whether your injury was a slip and fall or trip and fall.
In cases of tripping, you should ask:
• Was the item I tripped over intended to be there, and should I have been aware of it?
• Did I trip over flooring that was poorly installed or maintained?
• Could the item I tripped over have reasonably been kept in a safer location?
For both trips and slips, ask:
• Should a warning have been posted regarding the potential danger?
• Did the area have sufficient lighting to prevent such accidents?
How A Meth Lab Harms People
If a home has been used as a meth lab, it cannot be lived in until decontaminated. People who unknowingly live in a home that formerly was a meth lab suffer from a number of health issues from the contamination. The toxicity can enter the body by being inhaled or the skin absorbing the materials. Common health complaints by people living near an operating meth lab are headaches, nausea, dizziness and fatigue. Chest pain and lack of coordination also have been reported. In the worst cases respiratory issues, kidney damage, cancer and even death are a risk. Then finally the risk of people being hurt in an explosion is very high.
Utah Hotel Attorney
When you need a Utah Hotel Attorney call Ascent Law LLC for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506