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Jonathan Hankins of Klamath Falls, Oregon thought he was getting a good deal when he bought a house from Freddie Mac for only $36,000.  What he didn't know, however, was that he'd bought a former meth lab.

The family moved into the home the third week of June. Within days, Jonathan began experiencing severe dry mouth unlike he'd ever had before. He initially thought it was allergies, but soon his wife Beth, an emergency room nurse, also got severe dry mouth and developed sores.

Jonathan's symptoms progressed to sinus migraines, while Beth developed breathing problems. They both felt disoriented and their 2-year-old son Ezra was also acting strange.

Jonathan wasn't sure if Ezra was just uncomfortable with the move or sick. On his last night they lived at the ill-fated house, the boy kept telling his parents he was thirsty, but when he tried to drink water, Jonathan said his son threw it across the room because it burned.

"The neighbors said it's probably the meth," Jonathan said of the symptoms.

The Hankinses moved in with Beth's parents, and a test found 38 micrograms of meth residue--more than 80 times the legal limit.  They've since rented another house.  However, they not only face having to still keep up the mortgage on the meth-contaminated house, but have to replace several household items that were so badly contaminated that they're unusable.  Jonathan's also worried that his son may be at risk for developmental problems later on, even though they found out early on why they were getting sick.

Now they want Freddie Mac to not only cover the cost of decontaminating the house and reimburse them for the loss of their household items, but start testing all of their houses for meth contamination.  Sign here.

Jonathan said he was prompted to start the petition after getting the run-around from Freddie Mac.  He didn't hear from them for seven weeks after someone took his information, and was frightened by the amount it would take to fight Freddie Mac in court.

For its part, Freddie Mac says this really isn't its problem.

Brad German, a spokesperson for Freddie Mac, told that when a house comes into its inventory, the company looks to listing brokers to disclose information about the property's history so the company can get an idea of its condition and value.

"On this particular property, no such information was provided to us," German said, saying there were no police reports, odd smells or drug paraphernalia reported. If the company had known, it would have "certainly" disclosed such information, he said.

"We're very empathetic, this isn't what we look for in a sale," said German. "But the buyers were given every opportunity to do an inspection or conduct any test they wanted to conduct."

The problem with German's claim is that it shouldn't be the buyer's responsibility to foot the bill for testing a house for hazardous materials.  You don't expect someone buying a car to pay for making sure it's safe.  Should a home be any different?

I hope the scumbag who put this house on the market is proud of himself.

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Comment Preferences

  •  An attorney familiar with Oregon law needs to (16+ / 0-)

    go directly to its "seller's disclosure" provisions, and take Freddie Mac to court, pronto.

    Geez, even in Texas, the laws have changed over the last 30 years from the first house I bought to now - - disclosure by the seller is REQUIRED under state law.  Don't tell me those good, liberal, libetarian-streak Oregonions don't have something like that in state law!

    My suggestion, and IANAL.

    Torture is Wrong! We live near W so you don't have to. Send love.

    by tom 47 on Wed Oct 03, 2012 at 03:19:51 PM PDT

  •  Condemned (16+ / 0-)

    Oregon has serious problems with meth production and Klamath Falls is notorious for it. Stories from Census workers about wandering into meth homes would curl your hair.
    I used to live in Oregon and have some family that remain there. A house less than a mile from where we lived in a rural area was found to be a lab. It was sealed and condemned and destroyed. The earth under it had to be removed because it was so toxic.
    The seller  of the house HAD to have known along with the real estate agent....that crap is a massive bio-hazzard.

  •  Sadly this may not be true (3+ / 0-)
    The problem with German's claim is that it shouldn't be the buyer's responsibility to foot the bill for testing a house for hazardous materials.  You don't expect someone buying a car to pay for making sure it's safe.  Should a home be any different?
    Actually, anyone buying a used car without getting it checked out by a 3rd party mechanic is asking for problems. The lemon laws in most states are pretty flimsy in regards to used cars. It is strictly a case of caveat emptor And, at least in WA, every home or property I've bought I've had checked for problems. It's a few hundred to a few thousand upfront and some lenders won't even give you a loan unless you've done all of them. I'm surprised Freddie Mac didn't require it.

    If we got Mitt to be slightly less dishonest and gave him some personality he could pass as a used car salesman.

    by ontheleftcoast on Wed Oct 03, 2012 at 03:33:01 PM PDT

    •  used cars are not the same as (0+ / 0-)

      homes - disclosure laws for real estate are much more stringent - and, even with used cars, there are limited warrantys (usually 30 days) for specific items, but if that car really is a clunker, going through court usually ends up in the buyer's favor.

  •  don't buyers run tests as a matter (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ted Hitler, AoT, doc2, FG

    of course?  if a routine test wouldve disclosed the condition, the buyers fucked up.  if it wouldn't have been discovered in a standard inspection, they'll have a good claim against fnma.  

    the notion that sellers should test every house for meth is stupid, though.

  •  Since the buyer decided (7+ / 0-)

    to forgo an inspection of an "as is" property, he didn't exactly do his homework.  Claiming an inspection would never have found the problem is hard to make when you skipped one.    

    Just googling  the address of the property brings up as a 4th item a 2011 bust of the owner at that address for meth.  

    He probably has a case against the Relator and may have had one against an inspector if he used one.

    Freddie Mac is required to sell all their properties through proper channels, it would be impossible for them to run mold, meth, pest inspections when houses sit on the market for years.   That is why they sell them "as is".

    There probably should be a law that houses/apartments/hotel rooms get condemned until cleaned when a meth lab is found.   I think some states keep a database at least.

    It definitely another things to put on your list if you are buying a house.  They say it is a $50 test.

  •  in california, there is a legal disclosure (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    orphanpower, Noor B

    requirement that includes even such annoyances as "noisy neighbors" or "hostile neighbors".

    i hope they win this one - with damages!

  •  They tried to profit off of a foreclosure (0+ / 0-)

    and got burned.  Didn't they know that only the rich and powerful are allowed to do that?

    The revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

    by AoT on Wed Oct 03, 2012 at 04:10:46 PM PDT

    •  I'm surprised at this comment. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wilderness voice

      You know that foreclosures during this recession, almost without exception, result in significant loss to the investor/guarantor? Freddie Mac has seen catastrophic losses - catastrophic - from foreclosures over the past several years (so much so that they had to be completely rescued by the government).

      •  Losses which have been returned (0+ / 0-)

        at least in part by our government.  Where have you been for the last four years?

        The revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

        by AoT on Wed Oct 03, 2012 at 05:13:04 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  No, that is simply factually untrue. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          wilderness voice, FG

          There is no profit in foreclosures when real estate prices have collapsed. And government reimbursements under HAMP only apply to modifications, not to foreclosure completions. Are you just ranting, which is fine, or are you legitimately confused about what happens when a mortgage goes bad? I thought actually that AoT meant assignment of trade, a mortgage industry term.

          •  There were plenty of profits for the companies (0+ / 0-)

            that got us here.  And now that the banks are doing collateralized rent crap they are most certainly going to make a shitload of money destroying our country, again.  

            And you're wrong, a lot of companies are making money on foreclosures now.  Freddie Mac, which is run by the government, is the one taking the loss in these things,  not the companies involved.  If a large bank had bought this house to put in a collatoralized rent thinger(hope my terms aren't too technical there;) then they would be making a shit ton off of this place.  Instead these folks are going to get screwed.

            The revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

            by AoT on Wed Oct 03, 2012 at 05:27:24 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  People who buy houses on the cheap, (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              as-is, without inspections, do not get screwed. They screw themselves. I mean, it's sad and all, but how can people be so goddamned dumb?

              •  Because it's all they can afford (0+ / 0-)

                I'm not really sure how they could have known it was covered in meth.  I mean, would you think to test for all sorts of drugs in a new house?  I certainly wouldn't.  Do you think that would make it my fault if I moved into a place and it was covered in so many drugs that I was getting sick?

                The revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

                by AoT on Wed Oct 03, 2012 at 05:39:10 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  You can afford a house but not a $400 inspection? (0+ / 0-)


                  •  Do they really inspect for drugs when they (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    do a $400 inspection?  I'm skeptical about that.  More than that, these folks bought a house for 36k, it's entirely possible that they couldn't afford the inspection after al the costs involved.

                    The revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

                    by AoT on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 09:15:04 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Closing costs alone are at least 1.5-2k. And there (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:

                      is also a downpayment. We are talking about sums substantially bigger than $400. So they should have been able to afford this fee. Yeah, I'm not sure if the inspection would have detected meth. But since afaik it wasn't done at all we won't know the answer to it. Legally, Freddie is not liable for anything here since they likely had no idea the house was a meth lab. So the diarist's assertion that it should have been Freddie's responsibility to test the house for meth is wrong.

                      As a matter of courtesy, Freddie should help the family out. And it may be possible to sue former owners and get smth out of them. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if a petition is a part of legal strategy.

  •  Signed the petition. (0+ / 0-)

    Thanks for the diary.

    "Let us never forget that doing the impossible is the history of this nation....It's how we are as Americans...It's how this country was built"- Michelle Obama

    by blueoregon on Wed Oct 03, 2012 at 04:56:12 PM PDT

  •  We've had houses inspected maybe 5 times in (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Hastur, wilderness voice, Noor B

    the past 10 years and have NEVER seen an inspection report which mentioned "meth lab."

    FM needs to act in good faith with these buyers. It's that simple. Making them whole will not bankrupt the Bailout King.

    Thump! Bang. Whack-boing. It's dub!

    by dadadata on Wed Oct 03, 2012 at 05:21:35 PM PDT

  •  As-Is (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Freddie (and Fannie) sell their foreclosed properties "as-is.". Their contracts are very explicit.  Because those companies don't know what the prior occupants did with those homes.  Some Americans live pretty crazy lives.  Have you ever watched "Worlds Worst Tenants" on Discovery?

    Fannie has a very explicit guide about what to do with meth labs.  It is worth a read... Page 117.  Does Freddie have the same?

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