Are Remediated Grow-Ops Safe?

The number of remediated grow-op houses in the Alberta market is rising and there’s no guarantee they’re safe.

Bill Fowler, a consultant on industry and government relations for the Alberta Real Estate Association did an interview recently on Alberta Prime Time and below are some main points I wanted to highlight:

“Do we know that these properties are safe?  We do know that there are existing standards for the remediation of mechanical, plumbing, electrical and construction standards, but what we don’t have is a remediation standard for air quality.  It’s almost like the orphan in the situation.”

“You can have a home that looks like it’s quite beautifully remodelled, remediated, nothing looks amiss.  But the spore mold, there’s 3-4 different types of toxic mould which can lie dormant for years to come.”

“Would I sell one of these [remediated] homes to my kids, the answer is ‘no, I wouldn’t’  because I don’t have confidence in the standards that are currently practiced.”

According to AREA’s backgrounder dated October 2009, there are no consistent remediation standards in place for mould or air quality in properties previously used as marijuana grow-ops or other drug operations.

Currently, Alberta municipalities may allow a property to be re-inhabited when local standards are met. However, the conditions under which a local authority grants re-habitation differ from community to community. Universal standards for the province of Alberta are needed.

The potential also exists for a property to become ‘sick’ after re-habitation. There are currently no provisions in place provincially to protect the consumer should this situation arise.

As well, there are no guidelines in place to handle properties that cannot be remediated to the satisfaction of local authorities.

AREA has been working to get the Provincial Government to implement 2 main points:

  1. All grow-ops to be registered on Land Titles so buyers can do due diligence
  2. Alberta Gov’t to adopt a standard for the remediation of the air quality

AREA commissioned U of C Professor Tang G. Lee to come up with a remediation strategy and is now looking towards the provincial government to adopt it.

Read the entire 57 page report (PDF) entitled “Recommendations for the Assessment and Remediation of Properties Used as Illegal Drug Operations.”

Related article:  Buyer’s Guide: Protecting Yourself From Former Grow-Ops

Whether you’re looking to buy or rent a house, be sure to search Alberta Health’s Services Website.

Regardless of whether the listing states: “COMPLETELY REMEDIATED AND CLEARED BY THE ALBERTA HEALTH REGION,”  “The house has been remediated and has met all of the Calgary health region requirements,” “remediated and declared safe by the Calgary Health Region,”- I would never purchase one of these properties.  I believe the substantial health risks outweigh whatever financial benefits could be gained.

But not everyone feels the same way.   3 are C/S today.

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11 responses to “Are Remediated Grow-Ops Safe?

  1. thank you for raising this point. many buyers have no idea that remediation is a serious matter to consider when buying a home. most are more concerned on the homes physical attributes more than anything else.

  2. Cliff Stevenson

    “I would never purchase one of these properties. I believe the substantial health risks outweigh whatever financial benefits could be gained.”

    Neither would I, and I completely agree. These things really need to be rebuilt from the ground up.

  3. Pingback: Landlords: Is Your Rental Property A Grow-Op? | Calgary Real Estate Review

  4. Hi Mike,

    We had a Grow Op busted last year in our street. It has been reconditioned and has just gone on the market: http://www.realtor.ca/propertyDetails.aspx?propertyId=11269965&PidKey=246213372

    There is no mention that it is a remediated grow op – does MLS require this disclosure by law?

  5. Hi Andy,

    CREB recommends that members disclose previous grow-ops even if remediated and many Brokerages have made it their policy.

    A good buyer agent will also check with the Calgary Health Region and see that it was a former grow.

    Here is some more info on latent defects from RECA: click to view.

    Notice this one example:

    The fact that a home was used as a former marijuana grow-op would be a material latent defect if the property has not been professionally remedied.

    That said, if I were the seller I would definitely disclose than be held liable somehow down the road.

    Edit: Message I received from CREB:

    “The Buyer should always be asking if the home is a former grow-op. It is not “law” to disclose if remediated. The Seller and their representative, as well as their Brokerage, could be liable if they are aware and do not disclose. As there is no standard of remediation and sometimes even underground lines have been compromised we recommend they be disclosed”

    In any case, please speak to your lawyer if you find yourself involved with a remediated grow-op and are in need of legal advice.

  6. New article in this weeks CREN:


    (click to read article)

  7. From the Montreal Gazette, March 2, 2013 (click for article)

    Alberta’s approach, however, is not foolproof and has sparked criticism over its remediation standards and for failing to adequately protect buyers.

    “We hear different stories,” she said. “In some cases, in houses that were said to have been remediated, we still found mould.”

  8. Pingback: Cancelled Land Titles Provide Clues To Identify Former Grow-Ops | Calgary Real Estate Review

  9. Pingback: Grow-ops Focus Of CREB®Now Webinar | Calgary Real Estate Review

  10. Jerald Pitt

    Before buying any home I would recommend air quality test. “In some cases, in houses that were said to have been remediated, we still found mould.” A home that was a grow op, has pour vapour barrier or insulation in basement, inadequate weeping tile or sump pump are at risk. Remediation must first remove the cause and then deal with the mould spoors. The spoors can be very serous to your health. Testing is cheap and your real-estate agent can put in a back out clause.
    In all homes even new you will find mould spoors, at what level and type is the concern.

  11. Pingback: Legal Grow-Ops Can Pose Same Risk As Illegal Ones | Calgary Real Estate Review

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