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May 20, 2014 | CREBNow

Growing concerns

Government report could change rules forcing disclosure of grow-op properties in Alberta

Alberta homebuyers could soon have more protection in place to ensure they don't buy former grow-ops without their knowledge.

Last week, the government released a report titled Grow-Op Free Alberta Recommendations concerning proposed legislation to combat the ill effects of marijuana grow operations on Albertans, their homes and
neighbourhoods. Counted among the 37 suggestions contained in the report is a requirement that potential buyers be informed if a house was ever used as a grow-op. Under the current system, an unremediated grow-op must be disclosed, while remediated grow-ops can only be disclosed currently if the seller allows it.

"These homes can certainly be repaired and made healthy again. That is not the issue," said CREB president
Bill Kirk. "However, Albertans need to be protected in the event a property becomes sick after re-habitation due to the reoccurrence of mould or other toxins. Guidelines are also needed for properties that fail remediation standards so they don't become blights on our communities."

Concerns about former grow-op homes stem from potential health hazards created by modifications, including dangerous alterations to electrical and water systems, foundation modifications and the use of toxic pesticides.

The high humidity required to grow the plants can also lead to mould in walls, floors and ceilings, and can weaken the structural components and surfaces of a dwelling.

Many groups, including the Alberta Real Estate Association (AREA) and CREB®, have been pushing for greater disclosure and consistent standards to protect Albertans.

Should the recommendations made in the report — which consulted members of the Calgary Police Service
and Alberta Health Services — become law, the province would also make changes to the way the repair
of the homes is handled.

"Throughout the consultations, I heard that the lack of an effective, provincewide process for inspecting
and remediating marijuana grow-ops was a problem, " said associate minister of Public Safety Rick Fraser in the report.

"This issue affects a range of stakeholders, from first responders to safety-code officers and building inspectors to contractors and homebuyers. Homebuyers need access to information so they do not unwittingly purchase a former, improperly remediated grow-op."

The report suggests a standard system to indicate the level of remediation required. Under the recommendation, qualified consultants would assign a classification along the same lines as the one used in flood damaged homes to describe the level of work needed.

Another proposal suggested a system that would also help ensure former grow-ops meet the approval of mortgage lenders and insurance companies.

Under the current system, there is no minimum qualification or certification process for environmental and
remediation consultants.

"Buyers, sellers and of course REALTORS® need to know how to access accurate information about the repairs required, how to legally display to the market that a home has been repaired and how to get a
home insured and funded for a mortgage," said Kirk. "Any clarity around remediation standards would go a
long way to make the bringing of these properties back to the market a fair and transparent process to all parties."

The province has said it will move immediately forward on the recommendations regarding information sharing. Other recommendations, such as establishing air testing guidelines, are expected to take longer
to implement.

"These recommendations are a step in the right direction, and we look forward to the creation of much needed
legislation on this issue," said AREA president Brad Kopp.

"Our objective is for Albertans to be assured that they are safe within the walls of their own homes and that
the integrity of our communities is maintained."

Tagged: Alberta | Bill Kirk | Calgary | Calgary Community | CREB® | Grow-ops | marijuana

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