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Friday, December 09, 2005

Grow-op Owners Face Costly Cleanup

Landlords beware.... if you're not paying attention to what is going on at your property, you could be in for some big clean up expenses. This article from today's SUN talks about the problems with trying to sell a former grow-op. Buyers, this is yet another reason to have a qualified home inspector do a thorough inspection of any home you are consindering purchasing.

By CARY CASTAGNA, EDMONTON SUN

Four Edmonton homes condemned following a series of marijuana grow-op busts across the city yesterday likely won't face a wrecking ball.

But the homeowners will have to ensure the mould-infested residences are sufficiently cleaned and restored to Capital Health's liking before they can ever be sold again.

"It's up to the owner ... (but) it's usually cheaper to fix it up than tear it down and start all over again," said Glenn Jenkins, a Capital Health environmental health officer.

Capital Health has affixed condemnation notices to the land titles of four of the six homes where the joint EPS-RCMP Green Team harvested 2,373 plants worth $2.4 million.

"That notice will stay on until we're satisfied," Jenkins said, adding Capital Health keeps a permanent record of condemned homes.

Earning a clean bill of health requires removing all mould and water damage, making foundation repairs, and repairing the altered electrical, plumbing and heating systems, Jenkins said, adding walls have to be removed and joists need to be sanded down in some cases.

Cleanup can cost a homeowner anywhere from $350 to more than $20,000, he said.

This year, Capital Health has listed 15 homes as "unfit for human habitation" due to grow-op damage, Jenkins said.

None has been torn down - a decision that's made by the city, he added.

By law, real estate agents are obligated to disclose all material defects of a home, said Madeline Sarafinchan, incoming president of the Edmonton Real Estate Board.

But not all grow-ops are busted by police.

"You can't disclose what you don't know," Sarafinchan added. "A home inspection is the best bet."

Jenkins said homebuyers can look for some telltale signs of grow-op damage, including a patch job on the foundation wall near the fuse box and power meter, discolouration and staining on walls and ceilings, and a residual skunky odour.

Since April, police have uncovered 17,000 pot plants worth $17 million, said Det. Darren Derko.

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