ONETIME- Hole in the wall: How a rental property was ruined

Helene Rosenberg

One time, there was this very sweet guy who we took on as a renter. He worked at a car wash, but he turned out be a nutcase, and he and his pregnant wife just stopped paying the rent. Then they broke up and everything was left in this house.

We went into the huge downstairs area, and he had had a meth lab and it had blown up! We didn't even know about the explosion until a week or two after it happened. There was a hole in the wall.

The neighbors said that they had heard a blast, but they never told us or called the police. The police said that it was a meth lab because the only thing they had down there were aquariums, which they say are used to heat meth in. 

The police came out afterwards and said there was nothing they could do. Though I could have described and identify those renters, they wouldn't arrest them or search for them.

Later, we found another guy who was owed money by this same renter. I tracked the woman down to the Food Lion where she was working, but as soon as I started garnishing her wages, they said she'd left. We contacted the guy's father, and he did nothing. We were so dumb.

One of the things that you need to do as a landlords is band together and share lists of people that are deadbeats, and don't rent to them.

Find renters with good credit. Don't buy property in a town that unfairly favors the tenant over the landlord. The biggest thing is knowing that your tenant is going to pay. Now we've had some really good experiences with tenants. Most of our tenants are fab.

Go and look at your potential tenant's car. We should have realized that, because this woman's car was a mess, she was a mess.

You cannot predict what your tenants are going to be like from their references. People just lie through their teeth to get rid of bad tenants.

Generally, the higher income the property you're renting, the better your chances of getting tenants who pay regularly. But we had one guy who was on welfare who was fine. Who knew?



Boy, you know what they say about driving? That it's a two way street. I could tell you some landlord stories that would curl your nicely dyed hair. It works both ways lady, and more often it's the landlord who is the cheat and the scumbag.

Case in point...not matter where I've rented, I have always, repeat always had to nag and threaten to get back the security deposit or even a portion of it. Seems like all the landlords think that they're entitled to it. Or, what's more likely is, they don't have it because they didn't keep it in escrow. Word!

Did you have the house and land tested and professionally cleaned? OSHA assumes any old meth lab is a haz-mat site due to contamination and waste from the cooking process which uses highly toxic chemicals. Waste was most likely being poured onto surrounding soil.

Do you inform new tenants that they are renting an old meth lab? Do you give them a choice as to whether it was cleaned enough for them to risk their or their children and/or pets health?

There are many websites with info on people buying or moving into old meth labs and becoming ill.

Different states have different laws regarding disclosure, but I hope your conscience is your guide and disclose whether you are required to or not, same goes for when you sell the property.

Here is a website with some info, scroll down the page for data/statistics for some news stories from around the country.

Too many people are renting and buying homes that had old meth labs and having their lives ruined from becoming ill from the contamination and/or having to go through a lawsuit to rectify the situation either through recission or having a place professionally cleaned.