Posted: Oct 10, 2012 2:29 PM by MTN News
GREAT FALLS - The Montana Department of Environmental Quality will soon add another Cascade County property to it's state-wide contamination list, following the weekend bust of a suspected meth lab in Great Falls.
Cascade County has the most contaminated meth lab properties in the state, according to the Montana Department of Environmental Quality.
Each property is listed on the DEQ's website and can't be removed until a contracted cleaner has de-contaminated the site.
Creed Evans, owner of Northwest Meth Test, noted that cleanup types and costs can vary: "It depends on the level of contamination, and if they cooked it, produced it, actually made it in the house, or if they just used it in the house."
According to the DEQ site, 17% of the state's contaminated sites are in Cascade County, with 36 properties currently listed.
Property managers in Great Falls take note of such information and proceed with caution.
Doug Maas, a real estate broker in Great Falls, said, "We do pretty extensive background checks on anybody that's applying to rent."
Maas says he's fortunate in that he's never encountered any meth issues with his properties; he noted, "It's probably a stigma that's going to stick with that property forever, whether or not it's cleaned up."
He says if the property is ever sold, whether cleaned or not, it has to be mentioned in a disclosure form which would significantly decrease the value of the home.
And while the houses are livable after de-contamination, the process of cleaning them up isn't cheap.
Evans said of one home, "It was over $40,000 for a 2,500 square foot house."
And at that price, Maas says it's worth it to know your properties and to be selective about tenants, pointing out, "It's less expensive to let them sit empty for another month, if need be, to find the right tenant."
He added that he hopes people understand that contaminated houses aren't neighborhood specific: "Just because there's a meth lab in the house next door, doesn't mean that the neighborhood's falling apart, it can happen in any neighborhood."