Property owners don’t have to tell tenants about their home’s meth history

It can take just minutes for law enforcement to figure out whether there’s a meth lab in a home; the cookers usually aren’t very good at hiding it.

“They have no limit to the stupidity that they participate in when they’re making the meth,” said Tom Johnson, who coordinates drug cases between 17 law enforcement agencies for the West Central Metropolitan Enforcement Group.

But figuring out whether there used to be a meth lab in your own home gets a lot more complicated.

Wisconsin property owners and landlords have zero legal obligation to tell a new tenant their new house or apartment used to be home-sweet-home to a meth lab.


“Not really, it’s pretty much on their own. They don’t necessarily have to. It would obviously behoove them to totally revamp the apartment,” said Johnson.

Gundersen Lutheran Comprehensive Waste Coordinator Eric Bashaw disposes of dangerous chemicals every day.

As someone who used to work at La Crosse County Hazardous Materials Facility, he said the volatile ingredients in meth can stick around and affect your health.

“This can actually bind to things like sheet rock and carpet. They can linger in the air duct systems, especially in poor-circulating houses. A lot of these are dangerous by inhalation,” said Bashaw.

He said inhaling the chemicals used to make meth can cause respiratory issues, dizziness and unconsciousness. Some of the ingredients are carcinogens.

So how can you find out whether your home used to be a meth house?

You won’t find any central database where you can look it up.

“It just doesn’t exist,” said Johnson.

He said your best bet is to contact law enforcement and ask, but he can’t remember a time when that’s actually happened.

“To my knowledge, we never get a call. Nobody ever calls to find out something like that,” said Johnson.

State Sen. Jennifer Shilling’s office tells News 8 there is no legislation in the works right now that would change the law to require tenants to be informed of a home’s meth history.