Klamath Falls, OR – Jonathan Hankins though he was getting a steal when he purchased a foreclosed home in Klamath Falls, Oregon for $36,000. At the time, he and his wife though that the little house, which was in need of fresh paint and other minor fixes, was perfect.
But just days after moving in, Jonathan’s wife Beth, an ER nurse, started having breathing problems, according to Yahoo! News. Then, Jonathan started getting massive headaches and nosebleeds. Three weeks in, the couple’s two-year-old son developed mouth sores. Hankins recalled:
“We said, ‘It needs a little bit of love, but it’s got good bones.’ We just had no idea that those bones were poisonous.”
They were getting ready to schedule doctor visits for all three of them when a neighbor revealed that 2427 Radcliffe was a former meth lab. The Hankins’ immediately ordered a $50 testing kit and had the lab expedite their results.
The test revealed a contamination level nearly 80 times above the Oregon Health Authority limits. The family immediately moved to a rental home. While the Hankins’ were warned that they were responsible for detecting hazards such as lead paint and asbestos, they were given no warning from the real estate agents or Freddie Mac that there was drug activity.
The Daily Mail notes that 23 states, including Oregon, require the seller to make it known if a property was ever used as a drug laboratory, but Freddie Mac claims it had no idea about the Klamath Falls house’s history. Freddie Mac spokesman Brad German stated:
“We certainly empathize with the situation, but we had no prior information about the way the home had been used. If we had, of course, we would have disclosed it.”
Joe Mazzuca of Meth Lab Cleanup stated that, even with disclosure laws, only 10 percent of labs are busted, making it difficult to tell if your new house used to be one. The Hankins’ are not the only family facing this problem as Mazzuca recieves calls from people like them every three to five minutes.
He recently spoke to a man in Michigan who bought a contaminated home that killed his 14-year-old daughter after two years without even knowing it had been a lab.
Jonathan Hankins and his family are looking at financial ruin because of the cleanup costs, mortgage, and also the rent for their home. They took to Change.org, posting an online petition to try and hold Freddie Mac accountable for the cleanup to their house. Hankins’ petition reads:
“Freddie Mac advertises, ‘Our qualifying homes come with a reviewed title, and a repaired living space making them easier to sell and improving home values in your territory. We sell our homes responsibly. Freddie Mac is committed to having the best property maintenance and sales standards in the country.’ We had no reason to expect otherwise. Instead, they irresponsibly sold us a ticking time bomb of dangerous chemicals without even telling us.”
Despite the petition and the support Jonathan Hankins has received, attorneys for Freddie Mac insist that the “as-is” fine print to their sale will leave the Hankins responsible for the $5,000 to $15,000 clean-up burden. A quote he has been given to clean up his dream home-turned nightmare is more than the house is worth.