Was that listing ever a meth lab?
SEBRING, Fla. – Jan. 3, 2018 – At least inadvertently, Glenn Rieben has become a victim of the drug epidemic. The 91-year-old World War II veteran doesn’t use or sell drugs, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been affected.
Earlier this year, fearing that he was reaching the point where the state might yank his driver’s license, Rieben accepted an offer to buy a foreclosed house closer to Walmart.
As a normal precaution, Rieben had testing done and found no problems that would deter him from completing the deal. Last month, he said, he moved into the repossessed house and everything looked good.
“I guess the house was in pretty bad shape. It was all redone and it looked pretty good,” he said.
But, Rieben said, that changed when he met one of his neighbors, who asked, “Did you know meth (methamphetamine) was cooked there?”
“I didn’t know that,” he said. If he had, he would not have bought the house.
Rieben said he had the house tested for methamphetamine, and he received a document showing that methamphetamine was still present. The levels were high enough that the tester advised him to leave as soon as possible.
That prompted him to move into his travel trailer. He spends as little time as possible in the house, except when he wants to cook a meal.
His real estate agent told him she didn’t know about the methamphetamine before she sold him the house. And Fannie Mae, the Federal National Mortgage Association, would not take back the house.
Rieben said he will have to pay $3,000 to have the methamphetamine removed. That’s about the only option he has, he said, because he bought the house “as is.”
As to how the methamphetamine got there, that remains uncertain. At least during the last five years, the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office had no reports of calls to that residence involving illegal drugs. However, at least two former residents of the house have been arrested – apparently at other locations. One was charged with possession of a controlled substance.
Rieben said it appears that when someone buys a house it’s largely up to them to determine if it has any problems.
Chip Boring, a broker/owner of Re/Max Realty Plus, who was not involved in the sale to Rieben, said if a real estate agent knew about a problem involving methamphetamine at a residence, he or she would have an obligation to inform the prospective buyer.
But oftentimes, the agent simply doesn’t know, he said. Boring said if he were buying a house he would not have it tested for methamphetamine because of the unlikelihood it would be a problem, unless he had some reason to believe otherwise.
He said buyers sometimes see more testing and examinations as just additional expenses.
Boring said in years past he dealt with houses that were used to grow marijuana and at least one where methamphetamine was used or produced. But in those cases that was readily apparent, through odors or other signs.
He has also sold older houses that may have lead paint. Boring said he would inform buyers about the possible presence of lead paint and have them sign a waiver if they declined to have testing done.
Meanwhile, Rieben said he’s assessing his limited options.
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Establish in 2005, Empire Appraisal Group, Inc., is Broward County’s leading residential appraisal company as a result of their accurate and reliable appraisals, excellent customer service, and quick turn times. When working with an appraiser, integrity and professionalism are essential, and Empire Appraisal Group has a well-established reputation for providing the best appraisal experience. Daniel Lindeman, the Chief Appraiser, is considered one of the top property appraisers in Florida, with nearly 15 years of expertise and 8,000+ appraisals to his credit.
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