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Ohio city makes changes to property disclosure laws

One city in Ohio is making some changes to its law that may change the way people sell property. Property owners know they have a duty to keep the premises reasonably safe for anyone visiting or using the property. Reasonably safe means warning visitors of dangerous conditions, fixing any potentially unsafe conditions, and conducting regular upkeep and maintenance. If a property owner breeches this duty and someone is injured as result, the owner may be liable for the injury and damages.

The new city law in Munroe Falls targets owners who are selling their property. The law makes it a first-degree misdemeanor to knowingly sell a home without disclosing the history of methamphetamine production-related activity.

The City Council amended the city's code, making non-disclosure a criminal offense. The purpose of the law is to protect buyers. Ohio state law doesn't cover the issue yet.

Chemical and products used to make meth can linger in homes and properties, sticking to walls and floors and fixtures. These products are toxic and can make people sick. Disclosure of past drug production makes buyers aware and can prevent certain health issues.

Property owners should also be aware of additional legislation in the works. The proposed law would require meth houses to be properly cleaned. As of now, biohazard teams help clean and dispose of waste from the meth labs but lawmakers want to established a clear-cut definition for properly cleaning a meth lab.

The city is developing a form for property owners to fill out before they sell a house. The forms require disclosure of any meth production on the premises. Owners who knowingly fail to disclose, open themselves up to premises liability and now, criminal charges.

Source: Stow Sentry, "Munroe Falls legislation requires property sellers to disclose any meth-lab information," Jeremy Nobile, March 17, 2013

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