Pubdate: Thu, 04 Oct 2012
Source: Chatham Daily News, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2012 Chatham Daily News
Author: Vicki Gough


Knowing whether that property you just bought was ever a front for a 
marijuana grow operation can cause lingering doubts.

Though the problem may not be as great in Chatham-Kent as what larger 
neighbouring communities experience, local police have investigated 
about a dozen locations in recent years that fall under the 
definition of a grow-op.

Basically, that's where someone has altered or modified a property, 
such as bypassing the hydro connection, according to police.

When that happens and Chatham-Kent police get involved, investigators 
fill out a form and fax the information to the municipal clerk's office.

The document includes a date and location where the grow-op existed 
so municipal staff can monitor building code violations.

But until now, that information remained solely with police and 
municipal departments.

Advanced Realty Solutions broker Sheila Young campaigned for a 
process to give real estate clients more peace of mind.

"The reason I got involved was because I listed a house and to me it 
was suspect. So I called the police; the police said call the 
building department; the building department said call the police," 
Young told The Daily News.

A meeting with police and municipal administration earlier this year 
has now culminated in a process whereby realtors, lawyers and other 
professionals can now check if a property has been designated by 
police as a marijuana grow-op.

"All we're saying is we got a piece of paper that says (a property) 
has been investigated with respect to controlled or prohibited 
substances ... and no other details," municipal clerk Judy Smith said.

Smith confirmed there has been only one notification given of a 
grow-op property uncovered by police this year and nine confirmed since 2006.

"I have two others but I'm not sure of the dates," Smith added.

Eventually, Young said, such properties will sell.

Buyers need to know what they're getting into to factor all costs, she said.

"We're accountable for this. We have to let people know what they're buying."

In addition to altered hydro, grow-op properties may have built-up 
moisture that has produced mould where you can't see it - behind 
walls, Young said.

"Everything is correctable, but at what cost? They may still choose 
to buy the house, but at least they have the information in front of 
them to make that decision."

The Chatham-Kent Association of Realtors is made up of 150 members 
who can now access information about grow-ops through the 
organization's internal communications system.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom