When Bad Weed Moves In Next Door

Mar 27, 2013

Tin foil on the win­dows, children’s toys that never seem to move from their spot in the front yard and neigh­bours who don’t seem to live in the home they own. These are just some of the signs of a mar­i­juana grow oper­a­tion res­i­dents should look out for in their neigh­bour­hood, police repeat­edly warn. Accord­ing to a 2007 Royal Cana­dian Mounted Police report on drug offences, 60% of offences related to mar­i­juana pro­duc­tion occurred in a res­i­dence. And an Ipsos Reid study in 2012 – prompted by the Ontario Real Estate Asso­ci­a­tion – said almost a quar­ter of Ontario res­i­dents have “seen or know of homes in their neigh­bour­hood that have been used as a mar­i­juana grow oper­a­tion.” No one wants to live in a mouldy ex-drug lab.  A past his­tory of drug pro­duc­tion can lower a property’s value for years by 15–20%, and make home insur­ance a pain to main­tain. That’s why Markham real­tor Cathy Innamorato did not buy a grow-op home, despite the fact that it had been reme­di­ated, leav­ing lit­tle con­cern for mould. A con­ver­sa­tion with her insur­ance com­pany left her walk­ing away from the home, she said, because she ran the risk of increas­ing pre­mi­ums in the future. “And you have no recourse,” Innamorato said.  “So because of that I decided against pur­chas­ing this prop­erty.” Despite reme­di­a­tion – the process of erad­i­cat­ing mould and other dam­age done to a build­ing fol­low­ing it’s use for illicit drugs – a grow house never truly shakes its drug-related stigma, she added.  Reme­di­a­tion reports often don’t guar­an­tee the home’s con­di­tion 100% and insur­ance com­pa­nies are reluc­tant to accept them. “How is the buyer pro­tected?” Innamorato said. A cen­tral grow-op reg­istry would have all grow-op houses listed, mak­ing it eas­ier for real­tors to be open and for buy­ers to be con­fi­dent of their pur­chase. The Ontario Real Estate Asso­ci­a­tion repeated its call for the reg­istry in early March, sup­port­ing Nepean-Carleton MPP Lisa MacLeod’s recently tabled Clan­des­tine Drug Oper­a­tion Pre­ven­tion Act. “I think that there’s an appetite to pro­tect our com­mu­nity and also crack down on this illicit activ­ity,” MacLeod said. The theft of hydro is a major related con­cern, as house grow-ops steal energy by rewiring, often risk­ing elec­tri­cal safety. MacLeod said law-abiding cus­tomers wind up foot­ing the bill for dol­lars lost to hydro theft. “It’s quite sig­nif­i­cant, its a cost to our com­mu­ni­ties,” she said. One man has made stig­ma­tized prop­er­ties his per­sonal mis­sion. Barry Lebow, a GTA real­tor and an expert in real estate stigma, said grow-ops can become long-lasting prob­lems for home­own­ers and land­lords when they try and sell their prop­erty in the future. “Do you real­ize how many houses are stig­ma­tized in this province?” Lebow said.  “Because the law is that there’s no such thing as a statute of lim­i­ta­tions on stigma in Ontario.  It has to be reported for­ever.” While he makes it clear he dis­likes stig­ma­tiz­ing prop­er­ties for hous­ing as few as three or four mar­i­juana plants – there­fore caus­ing no dam­age done to the home – he agrees a cen­tral reg­istry dis­clos­ing grow-op homes ruined by orga­nized crim­i­nal behav­iour can help real­tors and buy­ers. “Where there’s been a pro­fes­sional crim­i­nal orga­ni­za­tion, that’s where I draw the line,” Lebow said.  “We have to quan­tify what they did to the house.” There should be a dif­fer­ence between a home where a per­son has grown pot for recre­ational uses with­out touch­ing the struc­ture, and a home that has to be gut­ted after a mas­sive grow oper­a­tion, Lebow said.  Because the two aren’t the same. “There­fore you have a prob­lem on your hands because you’re stig­ma­tiz­ing peo­ple for some­thing that really shouldn’t be stig­ma­tized,” he said. Lebow said he knows the impact of grow-ops on prop­erty own­ers.  He’s heard many sto­ries of land­lords who have returned to find ten­ants have ruined their invest­ment homes by run­ning grow-ops.  They take a huge loss of up to 20% in prop­erty value. “Most of the houses that I’ve come across …  have been hard­core blue-collar peo­ple who have bought a house, put all their money in, and find out that they’ve got a 20% loss in value across the board,” Lebow said.  “Nobody can afford it but these peo­ple ( can afford the loss ) even less.” Source: Sud­bury Star (CN ON) Con­tact: http://​www​.the​sud​burys​tar​.com/​l​e​t​t​ers Copy­right: 2013 Osprey Media Web­site: http://​www​.the​sud​burys​tar​.com Author: Maryam Shah

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When Bad Weed Moves In Next Door

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