Illicit Drug Laboratories
Landlord / Lessor Property Industry Tenant
Clandestine drug laboratory sites, commonly known as clan labs, are places where illegal drugs are manufactured. Criminal producers often use rental properties, although they also use commercial properties, remote rural properties and hotel and motel accommodation.
Clan labs pose a number of risks to human health, including exposure to the production residue of methylamphetamine (meth) and also from toxic and/or flammable gases illicit producers use to manufacture the drug. While the police may remove the raw chemicals and equipment from a property, contaminant residues can be absorbed into the building structure and furnishings.
If the buyer or tenant of a property becomes ill from exposure to a former clan lab, the real estate agency and owner could be at risk of legal action.
Pleading ignorance is unlikely to be sufficient to avoid proceedings.
Real Estate Agents and Property Managers
Consumer Protection regards the non-disclosure of known serious health hazards as a breach of the Real Estate and Business Agents and Sales Representatives Code of Conduct 2016 (Code). Such hazards include any harmful chemical residue left at a residential property due to it having been used as a clan lab.
Under the Code, real estate agents are required to ascertain material facts about any property they list. While determining what constitutes a material fact may depend on the particular circumstances, a property’s previous use as a drug laboratory is likely to be a material fact given it may affect a prospective buyer /tenant’s decision to purchase/rent the property.
Private landlords have a responsibility to ensure their property is safe for futuree occupants. If a tenant becomes ill from the effects of a clan lab, they may lodge a claim for compensatory damages.