WINDSOR HEIGHTS, Iowa -- "It`s just really scary that consumers don`t know the risks of meth contamination and the people that you think you can trust to give you good guidance on the matter may not be informed either," said Sarah Trone Garriott.
In September, Sarah and her husband made an offer on a house on Bellaire Ave. Then, they entered the inspection phase and began to take a look at the usual things: radon, sewer, roof, and foundation. At the same time, Sarah mentioned to a friend who lives in the neighborhood that she and her husband were about to buy the house.
"She asks me the address of the place we were considering purchasing," said Sarah. "And, I told her and she said, oh, the drug house, and I said excuse me? And she said well there was a drug bust. The person who was living in the house was busted for drugs and went to prison."
So Sarah and her husband had the house tested for contamination.
"The agent called me and said I`ve sent you the results, but I want to explain them to you," said Sarah. "Anything over 1.5 (mg/100 cm²) is contaminated and the level they got in the HVAC system was a 31 (mg/100 cm²), so the testing agent led them to believe that they were in there smoking a whole lot of meth in the home or they were producing it there."
Sarah says the man who was selling the house to her did not disclose any of this information.
"He knew that the woman who had lived in the home had been arrested and that it was for methamphetamine," said Sarah. "That news did not surprise him, but he gave us some story about, oh the police cleaned it up and it was fine and everything is fine. They tested and everything`s fine. There was never any testing done and it was not true."
Ken Clark, Past President of Iowa Association of Realtors, says if the seller knew, he had an obligation to disclose.
"Iowa law requires real estate agents to disclose material adverse facts," said Clark. "A material adverse fact is anything that affects the value, the integrity or the health of the property."
However, the Attorney General's office says when it comes to defining 'material adverse fact' the problem is what may be material to one buyer may not be material to another.
Meanwhile, after our report aired, we heard from the seller, Mick Grossman, who said that he never misled anyone and that this whole situation has turned into a nightmare for him. Grossman says that Sarah is not the victim, but that instead he is the victim. Grossman says he bought the house from a relative and was unaware of any drug activity in the house. Grossman says the first he learned about the contamination was when Iowa CTS Cleaners of Grimes tested the home. Despite all of that, Grossman says he agrees with Sarah, that there needs to be regulations and legislation to help people know what they're buying.
Here’s a link to required “Iowa Residential Property Disclosure” form from the Iowa Real Estate Commission: https://plb.iowa.gov/sites/files/plb/documents/Seller%20Property%20Condition%20Disclosure.pdf
Per the AG's Office, real estate brokers and sales people have certain legal and licensing requirements. Here’s the pertinent Iowa Code chapter link, and there are additional administrative law rules. Iowa Code §543B requires a licensed broker/seller to disclose “all material adverse facts.” According to the law, “material adverse fact” means an adverse fact that a party indicates is of such significance, or that is generally recognized by a competent licensee as being of such significance to a reasonable party, that it affects or would affect the party’s decision to enter into a contract or agreement concerning a transaction, or affects or would affect the party’s decision about the terms of the contract or agreement."