How can i tell if recently vacated tenant was cooking meth?

21 Replies

Hello forum,

I am a leasing agent at a rather large property management company. We had a tenant that has been living in the same apartment for the last 11 years move out today. This tenant worked maintenance for our property for 4 of the first years he has lived here. He has refused bi-yearly inspections since his employment ended, and since he was a trusted employee, we never demanded entry.

About an hour after he turned in his keys today, I went to the apartment for pre-turnover inspection. The apartment has severe orange/yellow/reddish staining covering every wall, surface, and carpet area. The bathroom sink and bathtub are severely stained, with the bathtub having a 2 foot wide black discoloring that rises about 3 feet up onto the connected wall.

My initial thought was that he had been smoking inside for years...but there was no smell of smoke whatsoever. I hope that this is black mold and the wall/carpet staining is due to long term smoking, but I cant help but worry that he was cooking meth in the apartment. Is it possible that cigarette smoke is the culprit? Or should I ask my property manager to test for meth chemicals?

After inspecting the apartment I came down with a sore throat and hoarse voice.

I also have a couple pictures taken of the bathroom that I can upload if someone could tell me how to do that.

Thanks for the advice!

I would certainly test for meth from what you describe. That sure doesn't sound like cigarette smoke to me. You can get test kits for this, but this sounds likely enough I'd call a professional. If it is, you will need professional remediation services.

Cooking meth results in a bunch of nasty gases that are sometimes collected into trash bags. If you find trash bags, especially any that are inflated like balloons, DO NOT open them. They get the name "death bags" for a reason.

When I inspected the apartment, the resident had left no items behind. Thankfully no garbage bags!

Here are a couple pictures of the bathroom sink and bathtub. Tomorrow I will take pictures of the walls/counter tops. You can clearly see drastic color contrast where he had maybe a clock on his living room wall.

Thanks for the rapid response and help with uploading photos!

I'm not sure what that is... but it does looks nasty. I'd have a Pro come clean/test that mess.

The Mrs. got home and took a look. She's a certified addiction counselor and trained in what to look for. She says it looks like and sounds like meth to her. I'd stay out and get this professionally tested.

Yikes, I'm glad I was able to move the future tenant to a different unit...meth or no meth,this apartment will not be ready for next weeks move in.

This apartment is on the ground level and has a neighboring unit above and a unit beside (sharing a wall) it. Could these other units be in trouble if this is, in fact, a Meth contamination?

Wow!!!!!! Never seen anything like that.. looks like you had a chemist living there.. can you say professional cleaning..... at least they paid 11 years rent.... clean up. Move on....

Looks like its been covered... but that is defiantly not smoking. I recently bought a place that was heavily smoked in for years. It resulted in a even yellow/brown coating on every surface, except were things were hung on the walls. Nothing in the house looked that disgusting. If you determine that it was a Meth lab, get the police involved.

Aren't you going to report him to appropriate agencies?

Luke, I fear that you have a worse problem than just one unit.

My understanding, confirmed by the thread which Stevel Babiak had provided the link, is that Meth clean up is very involved and very expensive. I'd be surprise if it were limited to just one unit.

Was this tenant actually living there? Could you find him if you needed to or has he disappeared into the wind?

Did the other neighbor's complain? Is there any loss of vegetation around the unit?

This is also a lesson for you and others that every unit needs regular inspections.

A rehabber in my area bought a house that ended up sitting with the roof off; I thought that was really odd (at first). Then they tore it down a few weeks later, to the point where one garage wall was all that remained standing. When I caught up with him and asked about that house, he told me it was a meth house, and that getting rid of everything was the solution that made most sense for their situation (they were re-selling and had to provide a seller's disclosure by PA state law). Hope this one isn't also a tear-down, but as Kevin just mentioned, the chemicals can infiltrate into places where you can't access readily.

Originally posted by Jon Holdman:
The Mrs. got home and took a look. She's a certified addiction counselor...

And the two of you met howwwwwwwwww? :mrgreen:

Well, we're totally off topic, but... We actually met when we both worked at a radio station many, many years ago. She's been a counselor for a long time and got the addiction counselor certification a few years ago.

Kevin: Yes this tenant was actually living in this mess...there was alot of hair caked onto the sink from shaving, a leftover used bar of soap, and was seen moving out person belongings like clothing and a bed.

I imagine we wouldn't have a hard time tracking him down as we have employment paperwork, application information, and even a forwarding address he left at key turn-in...although I would be very surprised if this address is legitimate(he must know what kind of evidence he left behind).

Also no complaints from neighboring units of strange smells.

George P.: I spoke with our maintenance head and found out that this tenant was fired from his maintenance position due to "coming into work sick and tired frequently" and having an alcohol problem.

I agree the authorities should be contacted, but as far as I know this has not happened. I have told my property manager about my suspicions of meth production in this apartment...but I'm not sure its my place to contact the authorities.

Am I correct that the choice to report this incidence is ultimately his?

"Sick and tired" may well translate to drug use.

You can get test kits for only a few bucks. Googling turned them up and I suspect Home Depot has them. If you can't get anyone else to test you could do one of these just for your peace of mind.

Thanks for posting the pictures. The first time I saw something like that I got really freaked out!!! It was just so scary, on that day I was alone in the pitch black dark with just a flashlight, in the basement of a vacant urine smelling home in the hood). I had just watched 28 Days Later for the first time. Scenes of blood splatter was fresh in my mind. A murder scene was my gut reaction. I got the f* out of there. I have seen it more recently and in the broad day light its not so scary but it just feels so seedy. I have been in some seedy places but the manufacture of drugs is just so horrible.

Great luck to you it is terrible this happened to one of your properties. What I think you should do is call the police. After you give the 5-0 the info, just let the police do what they do. They will snoop around. At least they will have a new lead. Maybe the guy did provide all fake info, well its up to the Police to determine that.

We need to get these guys off the streets.

I thought meth was cooked in winnegbagos in the middle of the desert or basements of commercial factories? I kid...I can't believe the neighbors didn't smell the toxic gases that come off those labs. Thank goodness he didn't blow the place up and start a fire cause you could only imagine.

Originally posted by Jim M.:
I thought meth was cooked in winnegbagos in the middle of the desert or basements of commercial factories? I kid...I can't believe the neighbors didn't smell the toxic gases that come off those labs. Thank goodness he didn't blow the place up and start a fire cause you could only imagine.

if the tenant had burned the place down that might of been better for the owner. Meth lab clean ups are very expensive and not covered by insurance. A fire most likely would of.been covered, and assuming no one was hurt, this might of been a better option, epa will require such extensive clean up its crazy

Luke, have you tested the property yet?

One other worry to impose upon you (sorry) is exposing the other tenants in the building.

If you suspect your property was used as a meth lab and wait weeks to test for it, you and the owner could potentially be sued for exposing the neighbors without alerting them or moving them.

Sorry this is such a mess for you.

I would call your local police department right away and notify the neighbors as soon as it has been verified. The police will test the area and track the guy down if he was cooking meth in the tub. Sorry to hear this but you will have to do this by the book or you could be sued by current or future tenants. If it was proved to be meth and he is arrested you can request the court for restitution as part of his sentence. Then if he does not pay he will go back to jail because it's a condition imposed by the court.

Join the Largest Real Estate Investing Community

Basic membership is free, forever.