AUGUSTA — Property owners must notify prospective buyers if the property was used for methamphetamine manufacture under a bill signed into law by Gov. Janet Mills.

Both houses of the Maine Legislature approved the bill unanimously. A companion bill that would have required landlords to decontaminate and test their buildings if they had been used for meth manufacturing has been held over to the next session.

The bills were sparked after Sanford Democrat Anne-Marie Mastraccio learned that residents in a multi-unit apartment building in Sanford were allowed to re-occupy their apartments after a meth lab was discovered in one of the units in 2017.

“Methamphetamine is manufactured with a cocktail of dangerous chemicals. Residue left from cooking it can stick to surfaces. Other states already require sellers to disclose any knowledge that a dwelling had methamphetamine cooked in it to protect future inhabitants from third-hand exposure,” Mastraccio said.

Illinois, Louisiana, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming have similar laws, she said.

The Maine Association of Realtors opposed the bill, L.D. 96.

“We oppose the bill because it is unnecessary since the existing seller disclosure law already requires the proposed disclosure,” Andy Cashman, speaking on behalf of the association, said during a public hearing in February.

The new law requires methamphetamine to be disclosed, alongside other specific disclosures, under an existing statute’s hazardous materials clause that includes asbestos, underground storage tanks, radon and lead-based paint. The law requires notification to buyers whether meth is present or has been removed from the real estate.

If the disclosure statement is delivered to the purchaser after an offer is made, the purchaser may terminate any resulting real estate contract or withdraw the offer no later than 72 hours after receiving the disclosure. If the purchaser terminates a real estate contract or withdraws an offer in compliance with the statute, the termination or withdrawal of the offer is without penalty to the purchaser and any deposit must be promptly returned to the purchaser.

It is unclear how many properties in Maine have been the site of methamphetamine manufacture, though the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency responded to 52 incidents in 2018, Mastraccio said.

“It is extremely difficult to find a list of contaminated properties,” she said. “Now owners will have a duty to disclose.”

The law will take effect 90 days after the Legislature adjourns, which is expected this week.

Tammy Wells — 207-780-9016

[email protected]

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