Grow-op registry only alienates lenders

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A bill to establish a marijuana grow operation and clandestine drug laboratory registry in Ontario will only stigmatize properties and punish consumers, says one mortgage agent.
“I don’t see the value of a registry in general,” says Aneta Zimnicki, a Toronto-area mortgage agent. “It is of zero value.”
Zimnicki – who is also a landlord – argues that properties that have been properly remediated should have a clean bill of health, and not carry the stigma of having been a grow op or drug lab the rest of their lives.
“It is no different than a house that has bad wiring. If it is fixed, then it is OK,” she told “The consumer shouldn’t be punished 20 years down the road for a house that has been properly remediated,” pointing out the difficulties mortgage brokers and agents have in securing a lender for clients with a home that has been identified as ‘remediated’.
If passed, the bill will require municipalities to register remediation work orders on title of former marijuana grow operation/clandestine lab properties.
The Clandestine Drug Operation Prevention Act has already been endorsed by the Ontario Real Estate Association, which has been asking for just such a registry for over a decade. OREA had commissioned an Ipsos Reid study in October of last year which revealed 93 per cent of Ontario residents wanted to know if the home they were planning to purchase had been used as a drug lab or grow op.
But Zimnicki sees consumers paying the price when it comes to finding a lender willing to finance a home that has been labelled a grow op or drug lab.
“Sometimes lenders don’t think it through. There are some great lenders out there – the B lenders – they understand that a full remediation works,” she says. “But a registry? It is just another thing lenders will freak about about.”
Realtors are obligated by law to reveal if a home has been used as a drug lab or grow op, but are hindered by the lack of a central registry.
Grow ops and drug labs cause significant damage to homes, creating mould, chemical contamination, structural alterations and hazardous electrical rewiring. Often these homes only receive cosmetic renovations to disguise their former use. Homebuyers who unknowingly purchase such a home find themselves facing a loss of home insurance for the property and high remediation" style="width: 314px; height: 235px;" />
  • Paolo Di Petta | on 2013-03-12 3:47:52 AM

    It makes sense to track homes that were former grow ops, but at the same time, once they're fully remediated and receive a passing certificate, it's only logical that they should be removed, isn't it?

  • Derek Rowley on 2013-03-12 4:23:06 AM

    Do the registry. We need one to prevent the sale of thgese former properties that are being listed and sold without disclosure that the property was a former grow op. Have seen this way too many times. Do the registry and do it now.

  • David O'Gorman on 2013-03-12 5:25:51 AM

    But what does "fully remediated" mean? If the sheathing, joists & rafters in the attic are black with mold, and there is mold between the drywall & the exterior walls & there is unknown chemicals spilled on the concrete floor in the basement, then remediation is a bulldozer. I have been a few grow-ops after they were busted & if a property has been a grow op over only one winter, there is no way I would let my family live in the property, "fully remediated" or not.
    In Toronto & the three surronding regions ( York,Durham & Peel) the police services in those areas claim there are a total of 5,000 to 10,000 grow-ops. Only a small fraction of those are busted by police. So a registry may give only a false sense of security. The open eyes of a listing real estate rep & an inspection by a qualified/experienced home inspector are still a consumers best choice.
    It has only been a few years since the FI's started to disclose POS grow-ops to
    buyers. In the past they paid their clean-up crews to hide the fact that the properties were former growops & hid behind the "as is, where is" clause in the agreement of P&S. Will those houses show in the registry?

  • Derek Rowley on 2013-03-12 5:50:59 AM

    Let me ask you this - would you want your young children living in a former grow op and are you willing to take the risk that it was 100% cleaned up including the air. Former grow ops are a high risk to young children for brain tumors. Gee, does this make a difference now????

    All former and current grow ops should be registered and anyone who tries to conceal such is no better than the one who was growing. As David O'Gorman clearly states in regards to the As is & where is clause in P&S agreements. Register them all and removed the license of anyone who does not fully disclose when they know about it. I can recall one particular incident where a house was listed by the same realtor and FI and was a former grow op and neither disclosed this. Fortunately I knew the house and the tennants/owners and let it be known to my clients. The sad part was it was ourchased by a young couple I knew who would not listen to my concerns and it was the better part of 4 years that two of their 5 young chuldren grew very ill thanks to all the mould and other chemicals still present.

    Buy the land and butn the house and build a new structure.

  • @kiltedbroker on 2013-03-12 7:57:16 AM

    This boils down to Health and Safety, Period. A registry should be made available not only in Ontario, but across Canada. It should list all properties that were once grow ops, regardless of the potential financial implications down the road. We need to start thinking about PEOPLE here and not our pocketbooks. Fully remediated or not, these properties could still pose a significant health risk - that is too much for me to chance when it comes to the well being of my family.

    A registry brings full disclosure - and allows consumers to make informed decisions. It is our responsibility as professionals who deal in real estate to protect the people we represent. I believe that in the long run, disclosure will do that 100 times to 1 than a lack of disclosure on the basis of potential "unjust stigmas" attached to a property that has housed chemical baths and pot plants.

  • Derek Rowley on 2013-03-12 12:23:13 PM

    Kudo to kilted broker - could not have said it better.


  • risk manager on 2013-03-12 12:35:30 PM

    Kudos to Derek & Kiltedbroker for their comments! I agree. Forget about the bottom line for a second and ask yourself if you would let YOUR family live in a former grow-op, remediated or not? Most people here have a better than average understanding of the risks; the average consumer does not. Shame on the "mortgage professional" quoted in this article who sees "zero value" in this kind of disclosure. There are valid reasons lenders will not finance this kind of home, including concern for the consumer. Too bad she doesn't seem to share that concern!

  • Aaron Moore on 2013-03-12 2:02:25 PM

    I remediated a former grow op in Toronto. Now it's the cleanest house on the block. We had a parade of city inspectors, engineers, and environmental consultants through the house. Air quality tests are done. If the house fails air quality tests, then you have to gut and clean up that area, then re-do the air quality tests to ensure the house passes.

    We have some good questions here, so I'll try to answer...
    QUESTION 1: We need (a Registry) to prevent the sale of these former properties that are being listed and sold without disclosure that the property was a former grow op.
    ANSWER 1: Nowadays, if it's a known grow-op then a work order will be registered on title and that work order stays on title until it's remediated. If the home owner doesn't remediate, then the city remediates and charges the home owner. After remediation is finished, the work order is deleted from title. However, you can always look up the deleted items on title if you want. So... if no-one knows about the grow-op (ie. the police never find out), then it will never be in any registry. It seems to me that the current process to clean up grow-ops in Toronto is very thorough.
    Another question is... What do we do with former grow ops that the authorities don't know about? Buyers better be doing good home inspections to protect themselves.

    QUESTION 2: what does "fully remediated" mean?
    ANSWER 2: It means that a parade of city inspectors, engineers, and environmental consultants have been through the house to ensure it's cleaned up and safe.

    QUESTION 3: would you let YOUR family live in a former grow-op, remediated or not?
    ANSWER 3: Yes, if it's remediated and has had a parade of city inspectors, engineers, and environmental consultants through the house. How many houses on the market come with recent air quality tests? Probably NONE! I had to gut and clean the attic in order to pass remediation. I bet most attics over 10 years old will fail air quality tests and any remediated house will be much healthier.

    I don't know about other municipalities, but Toronto has a good system to ensure former grow-ops are cleaned up.
    Since all known grow-ops get work orders registered on title, then why the need for this "grow-op registry" that will stigmatize the cleanest house on the block? Most people don't realize that a remediated house is much safer than the average house. How many houses for sale have the following?... 1) an Electrical Safety Authority certificate. 2) Air quality test results. 3) A recent building permit with the city.
    Grow-ops that the police don't know about won't be in the registry anyways, so what's the value of this registry?

  • Derek Rowley on 2013-03-14 9:36:56 AM


    Points well taken. Nicely done.


  • Mary on 2013-05-02 11:08:23 AM

    I think it's unfair. There are so many homes out there that have not been drug labs but have so much more damage but are deemed safe even if it reeks of mold. I've seen a grow-up house that didn't have any black mold, passed all air quality tests, over and over again, but guess what, no one will ever see past the stigma it's so unfair. If someone grows even a couple plants they will treat it as a grow operation, look at the homes down town (High Park) they reek of mold even their lawn is moldy, yet no one puts a stigma on it, the real estate agents won't even care what you think as long as it's stigma free you could be living in a dump. So why don't we ask every seller to provide a Clean Bill of Health document. If you really want the best for your family and yourself lets put a stigma on all homes until proven safe!!!

  • Mav on 2013-09-06 2:15:30 PM

    How would I go about trying to find financing for a grow op home?

  • rad reg on 2014-01-30 12:58:30 PM

    your mental, do you even have a clue what remediated means, it means profesional mold, electrical, plumbing inspectors go into a house that use to be a grow op, and they do what ever it takes to bring that house to an acceptable liveable standard, set by the governing agancies, which means that house after remediation is as safe and as up to standard as a brand new home. if you sterio type grow ops you should also included any home over 20 years old, flood damaged homes, fires etc. because I do home improvements and these home are always in way worse shape. Open up your eyes and realize what your saying.
    I am currantly trying to buy a remitiated grow op to move my family into, but cant find any bank that will touch it, and for your info ive completed a full home inspection myself and there is apsolutly nothing wrong with this house except a few minor drywall patches and flooring because of the remediation work. It has full pappers and a clearance from the city and on all inspections reads better then the outside air.
    If only you new what you were talking about, basically your saying these workers are useless and the house should be torn down, then lets tair down the whole down town area idiots.

  • Frank Tureczek on 2014-01-31 12:20:39 PM

    rad reg I can certainly understand your position as I actually owned a re-mediated grow op for several years. Last year I did sell it with full disclosure to the purchaser. Back when I purchased this home there were a number of FI's that would consider the application with a minimum of 25% down. I can tell you that today this number has greatly decreased (which was definitely one of the factors that influenced my decision). There are some local credit unions that will do these in the Lower Mainland (I am not sure where you are located but I am in BC) and I would be happy to steer you in the right direction. However regardless of how you personally feel about these types of properties please understand that there is, and probably always will be, a stigma attached. The hard question you have to ask yourself is whether the real risks (financially or health wise depending on your opinion) is worth it? Good luck with whatever you decide.

  • Highland_dancer on 2014-04-26 3:16:40 AM

    We're presently looking at a remediated grow-op (remediation completed 2011). We've seen a few other houses that are plain disgusting inside, and there are some we suspect were drug houses, but never proven. Those are more dangerous than the ones that ARE reported, because the reported ones get remediated. As a few people have said, remediated homes are cleaner and healthier than many others of the same age that were never "declared" as grow-ops.
    Question is, how do you get financing? Please let me know!

  • Joanna on 2014-04-30 5:55:01 PM

    what about a house where the tenants were charged but when the seedlings were tested there was nothing so all charges were dropped against the tenant.However the city still keeps a record saying the house was a grow op....what recourse does the owner have???

  • Joanna on 2014-04-30 5:55:38 PM

    what about a house where the tenants were charged but when the seedlings were tested there was nothing so all charges were dropped against the tenant.However the city still keeps a record saying the house was a grow op....what recourse does the owner have???

  • Trent on 2014-06-30 10:30:28 PM

    As an agent this goes both ways.. as I see it if you get a better deal on a grow op, be prepared to give up a good deal when you decide to sell. However.. I think that through the remediation process the property should not be stigmatized after. If its a clean bill of health then there shouldn't be anything to report. I was witness to one undisclosed grow op.. was never busted.. realtor did not disclose.. I was not allowed to intervene and disclose to anyone about the undisclosed sale because It would be against our regulations in AB.. Interfering with an offer.. myself with my buyer found this out at the home inspection and walked away from it. Just because we have a regulation doesn't mean that people won't be living in undisclosed sick houses.

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