REALTORS want drug declaration added to B.C. seller's disclosure

Realtors want drug declaration added to B.C. seller's disclosure

Stuart Hunter

The Province

One of the grow-ops -- commercial marijuana growing operations -- that are being raided in the Lower Mainland. Photo from the Drug Awareness Service of the RCMP.

CREDIT: The Province

B.C. realtors are calling for changes that will make it easier for home buyers to know if they're about to purchase a house used as a marijuana grow operation or chemical drug lab.

B.C.'s two largest real-estate boards -- the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver and Fraser Valley Real Estate Board -- have each submitted proposals to the B.C. Real Estate Association calling for the standard seller's disclosure statement to be altered to include reference to pot grow-ops and labs where drugs like crystal meth are produced.

"This is a real problem and we want to take a stand and be proactive," said Vancouver board president Bill Binnie. "The real-estate community have concerns like, 'Holy smokes, how can I protect my clients?' and we're talking about buyers and sellers."

Association executive officer Robert Laing welcomed the proposals, adding that the disclosure form will be reviewed by a committee consisting of realtors and lawyers on Feb. 18.

"We want to deal with it right away -- it's certainly in our industry's best interests to be seen as wanting to be on the right side of stopping this kind of problem," Laing said.

"The grow-op issue is unique in that the stigmatization continues long after it has been a grow-op. There really is a dangerous situation that people need to be aware of."

Laing said the committee's biggest challenge will be choosing the right wording on the form.

"The issue they really are going to face is not whether to add it to the statement, but how do we put in a question that will generate an answer?" Laing said. "They have got to come up with wording that is actually significant and effective like, 'Are you aware that this house has ever been a grow-op?'"

The disclosure statements must be completed for every property sold in B.C. Property owners are asked to reply to numerous questions about the home with a Yes or No or I-don't-know answer.

Buyers can pursue legal action against any seller who knowingly lies on a statement.

Some realtors feel the price of drug homes will drop by as much as 10 per cent if the proposals are adopted but Binnie disagrees.

"We're in a very active market and I don't see it affecting the value of property at all," said Binnie. "Disclosing it up front is just going to make the marketing process easier. There are not going to be any surprises and surprises always foil a deal."

Some homes used as grow-ops have needed elaborate renovations costing in excess of $50,000 in order to make them livable again.

 Copyright 2004 The Province