Fmr-brewery-indoor-plants1-300x197Ninety-six per cent of Ottawa residents agree they want to know if the home they’re planning on purchasing was formerly used as a marijuana grow-op (MGO) or clandestine drug lab, according to a study by Ipsos Reid for the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA).

The poll found that almost one in four (24 per cent) of Ottawans report seeing or knowing of homes in their neighbourhood that have been used as MGOs or drug labs.

“The prevalence of these homes in Ottawa is quite frankly, alarming,” says Pat Verge, an Ottawa area Realtor and member of OREA’s Board of Directors. “Homes used as grow ops and/or clandestine labs pose significant health and safety risks to individuals, families, and communities all over the province.”

Locally, the City of Ottawa approved a recent bylaw regarding the prohibition, inspection and remediation of former marijuana grow-ops. The bylaw mandates the registration of work orders on the title of a property used as a former grow op. The bylaw would allow home buyers to find out if the property was a former MGO by doing a title search before they complete the purchase.

Verge says: “Eighty eight per cent of Ontarians support the creation of a province-wide registry of former MGOs and clandestine labs. As consumers they have the right to know anything and everything about the home that they are planning on purchasing – especially when not knowing could put themselves and their family at serious risk.”

Exposure to mould and toxins associated with MGOs and clandestine drug labs can cause serious health problems, including allergic (immunological) reactions, toxic effects and infection. Toronto Public Health says that MGOs are distinct from typical types of premises contaminated with mould in that they have been used for criminal activities that may have resulted in the creation of environmental hazards, as well as electrical and structural hazards. The potential presence of known hazardous, toxic and flammable substances associated with clandestine labs presents an immediate and continuing risk to anyone exposed to these substances, says Toronto Public Health.

 

  • ian

    There really is a “reefer madness” approach to this by police forces and real estate agents. Sure, if there was a large scale grow and a danger to future buyers than the house should be on the list. But to attempt to destroy the lives of good hard working home owners who were not convicted of anything and maintain a clean healthy undamaged home….now that’s just plain wrong.

  • ian

    Sadly any house where police executed a search warrant will be labelled as a “grow op”. It could have been a house where a medical user had trouble getting a Health Canada license to produce a few plants. These licenses are VERY difficult to get so many just go ahead and grow a small number of plants in their basement. In many cases no one knew of the grow except the owner and occupants. No dealers or criminals ever visited the home. There was no danger of home invasion until the home was listed online as a “grow op”. There is no mould, no electrical bypass, and no faulty wiring. The home is less of a health hazard then one with a cigarette smoker living in it. With a dramatic drop in busts drug squads have turned to pressuring their local hydro utilities to spy on customers via smart meter data.

  • Roger Arsenault

    There is a lesson for all jurisdictions to learn from the proactive approach that is being taken in Ontario and, in particular the Ottawa area. This MUST become the standard practice for all areas of Canada.

    Why is it that we get asked time and time again – “If I buy this grow-op do I have to disclose when I sell it?” If the safety of the public at large was being taken into account then the answer every time should be ABSOLUTELY. The buyer knew very well what they were purchasing and why should the safety of others be jeopardized just because they think they can make money by remediating the property.

    Lenders and insurers are becoming more diligent for a reason so why not post the information on a public registry that everyone can see. I would like to take this one step further and have a national registry (no worse than the failed gun registry – oops was that my outside voice slamming politicians?)

    I support having municipalities deal with these MGO and labs by whatever means they need to ensure the protection of the general population even to the point of ordering them destroyed!! Put that in the pipe and smole it – LOL.

    These properties are being used for illegal purposes and should be treated as such. If you want to talk about somewhat medical uses that is a different story and these drugs have to be controlled the best they can, whether it be with other legislation or not. Come on politicians let’s think of who elected you and deal with these properties and protect the safety and integrity of all of us.

  • Dave DeShane

    Remediated is remediated. WE shouldn’t be selling paranoia. In many/most cases a remediated house is better than neighbouring houses.
    Hypothetical 1. Dad passed away, mom moved in with us for her health problems, there were legal delays in getting the house sold, the tenant started a grow op, he was caught at the very beginning stages, the municipality examined the home and determined that zero remediation was required, zero health concern, The realtor that was helping mom and arranged for the tenant now has disclose to everyone forever more that moms house was a grow op and moms nest egg is destroyed.
    Hypothetical 2. I know this guy that loves tomatoes, he set his whole house up as a hydroponic operation for his tomatoes, he uses chemicals that you can buy at any store and mixes them and grows these massive tomatoes, really super tasty, you should see all the mildew in his house and hoses and wires everywhere, he got rich selling his formula to a tomatoe company and now with a little clean up he is selling his house, but it was just tomatoes so there is nothing to disclose.
    Remediated is remediated. Once the jusisdiction is satisfied so should we be.
    Dave

    • Joyce Ramer

      Yes , Yes we should, it is imperative! Too risky for health reasons not to know before you make a sale!

    • Alex Morin

      Dave- Although you bring good points i couldn’t DISAGREE more with your comments. Permit me to do a parallel with the auto industry for a second- If you’re buying a used vehicle that was involved in an accident, flood, theft ….. and it’s been repaired why would you disclose it? it’s been fixed, right? Wrong, unlike the RE industry the auto industry regulates proper disclosure to insure customer protection.

      A former grow op, should never in it’s lifetime be taken off the registry, Who are you or who am I to choose for the next buyers that this is information they do not need to know?

      The question should be around the elements that are needed for this property to actually be part of the registry. Too many people judge a Grow op by the amount of plants that were seized when really these are the questions that should be asked to see if a house should make the list:

      1: Was there modification to the electrical system to accommodate the operations?
      2. Was there structural modification to the house ( Hole in the foundation, floor beams, attic…. )?
      3. Was there modification of the HVAC or plumbing system?
      4. Was there high moisture and Mold found on site?
      5. Was there chemicals found in the house?

      If ANY of these questions are yes then the property should be added to the registry, whether re-mediated or not .

      Currently in Canada there is no standard approved remediation process, municipalities with very little knowledge are charged with the task of clearing these properties of health hazards when in fact no long term studies where ever made to prove that proper remediation solved all future health, structural or electrical hazards.

      I strongly believe that the consumer should be made aware so he can purchase fully knowing all facts that will affect future value and any health hazards that might show up down the road.

      Customers have a right to know and decide for themselves, Dave I believe the extent of your work is not to sell paranoia, but present the facts and advise your customers accordingly.

      Alex

      • Dave DeShane

        Clearly different jurisdictions treat this question differently. My familiarity with this would mean the old electrical service, or HVAC, or wall board, or insulation is replaced with new to todays modern standards, that has to be a positive. Is our industry so arrogant that although building, health and safety officials declare the home 100% safe that we are going to declare those officials inept.
        Dave

      • PED

        How about:

        Was it busted long enough ago that dealers won’t be be knocking on the door?

        I do beleive some of my peers really need to think about that aspect as well.

  • Alex Morin

    I must chime in on this one, as this topic has surfaced again. iVerify.com built and maintains the first and only known multi agency level national MGO registry. We make our registry available to ALL real estate professional and home buyers. Equally important to MGO our services also cover Ontario municipal building permits as well as national insurance aggregated information on previous claims of a specific property.

    Following this survey back in November we contacted Pat Verge to inform her of our services and our registry and to this date OREA has not shown interest in using it or supporting it.

    Although we support and applaud the initiative shown by the city of Ottawa, police jurisdictions in Canada override each other, leaving an Ottawa MGO dismantled by the RCMP or the OPP uncovered by this initiative.

    We can tell you that at this time many previous MGO homes are currently advertised on both MLS and FSBO websites WITHOUT the proper disclosures. Many specific investigations revealed that the sales professional or/and home owner did not disclose properly.

    Our organisation is dedicated to bring solutions to help RE Professionals better represent their customers with unbiased information and transparency.

    Feel free to contact me directly for further information.
    amorin@iverify.com

    Alex

  • Henry

    Is this not a federal issue for CREA to look into. Not OREA. Surely OREA needs to look at more provincial poressing problems that are prevalent and will only escalate as the population ages and increases – for example better transit and seniors housing and tightening mortgage requirements and others….

    Also what constitues a grow op property. Will the Registry be solely for residential properties or include farms, rural, industrial properties? Does the manufacture of legal drugs and/or toxins created require that the property must go onto a grow op registry. If a property that was used as a farm and had “drugs” such as insecticides, etc…housed in properties be classified as a property to be included. What if there were three marijuana plants legally grown for medical use in the home, does it have to go on the registry. Also what is the property is remediated – how does it comes off the Registry? Bet you it will never come off the registry. How long does the property stay on this list after it is “cleared” from all municipal work orders?

    States in the USA are approving minimal use. Cities and towns in Mexico and South and Central America are starting to talk to the US changing its Drug War parametersto because of these states changing their policies. What if small three plant growing is approved in Toronto – does that home go on the list? Who decides?

    Do you as a Realtor find out is a sex offender or pedophile lives in the town and do you disclose this? What if there is a “half way” house in the neighbourhood – do you disclose this? How about a Shelter? What about the gun registry? Surely your buyer would like to know if the neighbour owns a weapon?

    I recall CREA has this on their radar some while back. They do not now. Why is that?

    • Pauline Aunger

      It is great to see REALTORS® engaged on this issue, which clearly affects us all!

      Marihuana grow operations and clandestine labs have been on CREA’s radar for a while. We recognize this issue as one that is national-in-scope and multi-jurisdictional, rather than purely federal in nature. Indeed, from a legislative and regulatory perspective, mechanisms for change rest at all levels of government. OREA has done a tremendous job advocating for a province-wide registry in Ontario. Their work serves as an example as to how to disclose information on former drug operations to the public.

      CREA has also been active on this file for some time. Late last year, we brought our industry’s voice to the national stage through participation on the RCMP-initiated National Council Against Marihuana Grow Operations and Clandestine Labs. I am pleased to sit as one of the Council’s co-chairs.

      The Council held its inaugural meeting at the RCMP’s Headquarters at the end of November, where we established priorities. You will be pleased to know, chief among them was to protect Canadians and their homes. We look forward to continuing to bring our industry’s expertise to the table, through input from local and provincial Boards and Associations, in order to tackle some of the issues you raise.

      Please check out the Council’s press release on the RCMP’s website – http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/news-nouvelles/2012/11-29-co-eng.htm

      • Alex Morin

        Pauline,

        As per our phone conversation iVerify.com already offers this data and much more to Realtors, it’s up to Realtors to start using it. CREA , OREA and RECO are also aware of this.

        We’ve designed this for Realtors and home buyers, Let’s not recreate a long gun registry with too much government input.

        http://www.iverify.com

        Again please feel free to reach me anytime, I believe you have my co-ordinates.

        Alex

      • Henry

        Good to see your input Pauline. Thank you.

  • Eyes on the Net

    For more than 6 months there has been a simple process for any Canadian to access this information. If they simply choose to be represented by a Buyer Representative who has been Professionally Verified or if they choose a home that has been Professionally Verified, they are legally protected to be informed if a home was a former Grow Op.

    Where OREA and the Police are hindered by Privacy Law and the risk of false identifying a home, (which is why OREA probably wants legislation), Professionally Verified has taken the Agency approach to this issue.

    Currenly NO mere posting or FSBO has the ability to be Professionally Verified by the way.

    Just Google Professionally Verified.

    BTW. This is another great tool that the ddf allows if you have access to a platform that supports it.

  • Brian Martindale

    Here is an interesting, and disturbing fact, as passed on to me during a seminar on residential grow ops in Ontario hosted by the Fire Chief of the City of Niagara Falls, Ontario. This was a seminar that I attended a few years ago in Peterborough, Ontario whilst working as a residential real estate Appraiser. I found the following information to be almost unbelievable, and it is this:

    “There are more illegal residential grow ops in Ontario than in all of the United States of America.”

    Why?

    In Canada we are soft on so-called illegal soft drugs, pure and simple. Hand slaps are the rule of the day for offenders. Maybe many of our esteemed liberal politicians/judges smoked up, or still do. In the States, punishment is swift and harsh, as it should be, ergo, criminals target Canada, especially Ontario, for its relative ease of production of cannibus, as well as for its worth-the-chance-to-break-the-law mentality that is spawned by lax legal repurcussions in Ontario.

    Brian

  • Merv Burgard

    Some locations are noted on the RCMP website here:
    http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/drugs-drogues/mgi-ircm/index-eng.htm.
    My local police department also posts a list of addresses.
    Merv.

    • PED

      Useful link thank you. I note though there is nothing for Ontario I wonder why?

      • Dale

        Click on the red square on the map for Ontario and there are 7 Police Departments that currently report. My region is not there and they don’t post anywhere else I wonder why it would make our job that much easier.