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Michael Leavitt shares his thoughts and insights regarding meth decontamination, meth sampling, and inspecting homes for environmental issues and concerns.

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Utah Meth Testing Loophole - Good or Bad?

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1Michael Leavitt 160For several years now, it has been well known that there are three main ways to have a home tested for meth, and each has their benefits.

SELF-TESTING - Anybody can test any property by way of self testing. This means you get the test kit online or directly from the lab and you read the instructions and take the sample. The main reason for doing it yourself is to save money. The results will satisfy your curiosity, but it will not be adequate for a real estate negotiation where thousands of dollars in decontamination fees are at stake. There is no mandate for self-test results to be sent to the health Department.

LICENSED DECONTAMINATION SPECIALIST - This would seem like the best option, but if the results are elevated, then they are required by Utah law to report the elevated findings to the local Health Department and decontamination MUST be performed. This may seem like a good option on the surface, but there are drawbacks. First,  licensed Decontamination Specialists are not neutral third parties, as they make big fees off the decontamination. Second, they are required by law to report the findings. When they test for a homeowner that understands that if the results are high, then most of the items in the home will get disposed of in the decontamination process. This quickly makes it a tens of thousands of dollar decision. Is it fair for a prospective buyer to thrust the results of the findings upon the homeowner who then is forced to dispose of most of the items in their occupied home? Using a licensed Decontamination Specialist removes any privacy in the testing process.

THIRD PARTY SAMPLER - Neutral third party samplers are trained in the latest protocols for sampling. This ensures that a good sample is provided to the lab. Utah laws do NOT require that an elevated result be reported to authorities. This is a huge bonus when privacy is a concern. This allows a buyer to obtain the information needed, at their own expense, and the findings are as private as they want them to be. Third party testers also have no vested interest in the outcome of the findings because they do not decontaminate and their fee is only for testing.

This raises the question as to whether all elevated meth tests should be required by law to be submitted to the local Health Departments. In 2012, a local Realtor felt this should be the case and he went to KSL to get an expose story done. The news story was published and came and went without much fanfare, but the question remains, should all positive meth test results have to be reported to the Health Department?

Here is the way KSL reported the story...


Realtor speaks out on meth contamination loophole

By Lori Prichard - June 18th, 2012

SANDY — A realtor is calling on Utah lawmakers to tighten the reporting requirements for methamphetamine contaminated properties.

Brandon Hacker has been selling homes for about three years now. He says he's seeing about one home a month contaminated with meth. But he also says he has a way to cut down on the number of those homes put on the market.

"My test is really for my own self and my buyer," Hacker said. As a realtor, Brandon Hacker is representing his buyer, but he's also helping other prospective buyers by hiring a certified decontamination specialist to test the house for meth.

"With the furnace, if there was any meth smoke in the house at all, the air return system will pick it up and distribute it throughout the house," said Eric Wright, a decontamination specialist.

Wright tested a home on the market in West Valley City for methamphetamine. The house - under contract - is being tested because Hacker says he's seen too many homes contaminated.

but getting tested can help future buyers as well.

"If they get a certified test done, the health department will step in and protect us," Hacker said.

That's exactly what happened for a house in Sandy. Hacker had a buyer, but insisted that they do a meth test. It came back double the legal limit. The results were reported to the Health Department. The house is still for sale, but any buyer is barred from entry until it is cleaned up.

"I don't want this story to be like the previous years where the family with the baby buy the perfect house then the baby gets sick," Hacker said. So I'm stepping forward to say ‘Let's stop this before the family moves in.'"

The law on meth testing in Utah has a loophole: Hacker says if he had done a self-test on the house and not hired a certified specialist like Wright, he's under no obligation to report it to the seller, the state or the next buyer. He could have walked away and no one would have known.

"With inventory low, a lot of (realtors) say ‘I don't want to know, let's hope the next person doesn't want to know either,'" Hacker said.

That underscores the fact that right now in Utah, it's really up to each buyer to do a meth test. But hire a certified specialist to do it. That way you can walk away, but another person won't walk right in and buy it.

LINK TO ORIGINAL ARTICLE


As a neutral third party sampler, I can see advantages and disadvantages to both scenarios. I feel it is myopic to think that the privacy issue should be removed and that all elevated test results should have to be reported to the Health Department, regardless of who does the testing.

Michael Leavitt - Orem, Utah - www.TheHomeInspector.com - Michael Leavitt & Co Inspections, Inc.

What do you think, should all positive meth test results have to be reported to the Health Department?

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