Sanford Police and drug agents carefully handle ingredients from a meth lab discovered in an apartment building in this 2017 file photo. Two bills sponsored by Rep. Anne-Marie Mastraccio, D-Sanford, would create new rules for sales and rentals of properties that once were the site of meth production. TAMMY WELLS/Journal Tribune

AUGUSTA – State Rep. Anne-Marie Mastraccio said she was surprised when residents of a Sanford multi-unit apartment building were allowed to re-occupy their apartments after the discovery of a meth lab in one of the units in 2017.

Mastraccio told the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee last week that the first of two bills she is sponsoring, L.D. 89, would require landlords have their buildings decontaminated and tested after the discovery of a meth lab.

The bill also requires that landlords disclose to the potential tenant that a property has been used in the manufacture of methamphetamine. Failure to do so would be a civil violation, punishable by a fine of up to $500. As well, a failure to decontaminate or disclose constitutes a breach of the implied warranty of fitness for human habitation, the bill states.

]Mastraccio’s companion bill, L.D, 96, requires the seller of residential property to disclose whether the property has been used for the manufacture of methamphetamine.

Both bills are cosponsored by Rep. Ryan Fecteau, D-Biddeford, Rep,. Deane Rykerson, D- Kittery and Sen,. David Woodsome, R-Waterboro.

“Methamphetamine is manufactured with a cocktail of dangerous chemicals and residue left from smoking or cooking it can adhere to surfaces,” said Mastraccio at a public hearing on the two bills a week ago. “While not a lot is known about third-hand exposure to these chemicals, we do know much about the detrimental effects of first and second-hand exposure. This is why
other states require disclosure that a dwelling had meth cooked or smoked in it and also have a testing and decontamination requirement. Maine has neither of these requirements.”

She pointed out that L.D. 89 would require landlords to ensure property used in the manufacture of methamphetamine be decontaminated and tested, and that L.D. 96 would require require the seller of residential real estate to disclose whether a property has been used for the manufacture of methamphetamine.

“If one believes lead, radon, and asbestos require notification,” said Mastraccio “it is inconceivable to me that Maine would not require the same simple notification of methamphetamine.”

Andy Cashman, speaking on behalf of the Maine Association of Realtors, said the agency opposes L.D. 96.

“We oppose the bill because it is unnecessary since the existing seller disclosure law already requires the proposed disclosure.” said Cashman.

Rosemary Moeykens spoke for the Maine Real Estate Managers Association, which is neither for or against L.D., 89, aimed at rental properties previously used in the manufacture of methamphetamines.

She asked if the proposed requirements for rental properties should also apply to residential real estate and if the disclosure is made to the first tenant following the decontamination, or if it would be applied to all future tenants.

Moeykens spoke of an incident at a Topsham rental property.

She noted the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency barred anyone from entering the unit where the meth production took place for three days.

“In this incident, the meth production was in a soda bottle, using the so-called “shake-and-bake” method, which would be far less toxic than a full meth lab. The meth materials did cause a fire and the tenant’s son, who was producing the meth, was badly burned. DEA tested many areas of the apartment, including the carpet, using a test kit. After three days, DEA allowed the tenant to move back in to the unit. The tenant’s son was not on the lease, nevertheless the tenant was evicted for allowing the incident to occur.”

She asked if the testing done by the DEA would satisfy the requirements of L.D. 89.

Moeykens noted some provisions of a New Hampshire law that spells out who is responsible for determining that a property is safe to inhabit again, specifically, the Department of Environmental Services or a licensed hazardous waste removal specialist. In the granite state. She noted in the New Hampshire law, the property owner is not made responsible for testing or decontamination, but to be cleared for sale or rental without full disclosure, a property would have to be tested and decontaminated to the point of safe occupancy.

A work session on the two bill s is set for 1:15 p.m. today in State House Room 438.

— Senior Staff Writer Tammy Wells can be contacted at 780-9016 or [email protected]

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