Huffington Post | By David Moye
If the price being offered for that dream home seems a steal, better make sure no one was committing crimes there.
That’s the painful lesson that Jonathan and Beth Hankins learned after buying a foreclosed fixer-upper in Klamath Falls, Ore., for the rock bottom price of $36,000.
“We said, ‘It needs a little bit of love, but it’s got good bones,’” Jonathan Hankins told Yahoo! News. ”We just had no idea that those bones were poisonous.”
The couple moved in this past summer, and almost immediately, Beth, an ER nurse, had breathing problems while Jonathan got migraine-like headaches and their 2-year-old son, Ezra, developed mouth sores.
“He couldn’t even drink water without being in pain,” said Jonathan, 32, told the website.
No, the house wasn’t haunted. The answer was even scarier: It was a former meth lab, something a neighbor mentioned in passing while they were planning to see a doctor to figure out their strange ailments.
“We bought a meth lab by accident,” Hankins told The Huffington Post.
After using a testing kit, the couple learned that their dream home was contaminated by methamphetamine and other chemicals more than 80 times the legal limit,iScienceTimes.com reported.
Freddie Mac, which foreclosed on the house, told the couple they had to screen for asbestos and lead, but did not warn about any drug activity. Not that it would have any difference, Jonathan told Yahoo! News, because methamphetamine is an invisible toxin.
Freddie Mac spokesman Brad German said the company was unaware the house was a meth lab.
“Had we known, we would have disclosed it,” he told The Huffington Post.
The Hankins have since moved out of the property and into a rental, but are facing financial ruin because of the extra expense, the Daily Mail reported.
Oregon law requires homeowners to disclose if the home was used for production of meth, but only if that was verified by the Oregon Health Authority. The problem with that rule is that it will likely only happen in a case handled by law enforcement, if sellers are honest, and the financial institutions involved know about the house’s history, HeraldAndNews.com reported.
Hankins is trying to prevent other homeowners from his situation via a petition drive on Change.org asking that banks and other financial firms be forbidden from selling meth-contaminated homes.
UPDATE: This new version of this story includes comments from Freddie Mac spokesman Brad German.