Cannabis is legal now, but how do you deal with Grow Houses and Mold?

Grow Houses are houses used to grow large amounts of marijuana. With marijuana only recently becoming legal it is safe to assume that there are still some Grow Houses out there, or at least some former Grow Houses. Also, it is not clear whether legalizing marijuana will eliminate Grow Houses or what this could mean for their continued existence. Before you look at buying or selling a former Grow House, you should be aware of some concerns and issues.

grow houses
Grow Houses use a lot of electricity and police monitor usage to detect Grow Houses. So, in order to avoid detection, Grow House electricity connections are often tampered with and illegally connected to the electricity grid. This means that the connection could be faulty and the home’s electrical system overburdened, causing safety, health and repair cost concerns. Wires, panels, etc. may have to be replaced. Also, plumbing and sewage systems may have been altered necessitating substantial repairs. This should be carefully inspected and the proper clearance certificate obtained from the electrical authority.

If you are a seller or an agent dealing with a Grow House you should ensure that the buyer is aware of and acknowledges the previous use and the potential concerns with Grow Houses directly in the Agreement. The buyer should also waive any claims against the Seller, Broker or Agent.

If you are a buyer or acting for a buyer you should ensure that a full and thorough inspection is conducted to determine if there are any environmental fitness, structural, electrical, plumbing, mold, or other damage concerns. If so, the buyer should carefully consider whether to proceed and, if so, insert a clause making the transaction conditional on the proper remediation and certification of remediation of all of the problems revealed. The purchaser should also ensure that the home can be insured as we have seen insurance declined on a Grow House for these reasons. As a buyer you should also know that these houses are often stigmatized and listed in police directories. If you are unsure, you should check this in the local police department.

Grow Houses also often result in Mold. Mold, which may be caused by excessive humidity, building leaks, bathroom surfaces and flooding can affect the air quality in a home and result in health problems such as asthma, coughing, wheezing and headaches. However, mold is not just a concern in Grow Houses, but in all homes, including, in a recent case, Condominiums. When mold permeates a home it can be extremely difficult and expensive to remove. It is therefore important that purchasers have an air quality test for mold prior to proceeding with the purchase. Some home inspectors will conduct the test for an extra charge. There are also specialized companies which will conduct these tests. If mold is found, a reputable and experienced company should provide an estimate for the cost of removal. The purchaser should make the Agreement conditional on satisfactory removal and certification of remediation from such a company. The purchaser should also ensure that financing will not be prejudiced by the presence of mold as a lot of lenders will not lend on Grow Houses.

The Real Estate Council of Ontario guide below is also helpful:
http://www.reco.on.ca/home-buyers-sellers/buying-home/marijuana-grow-houses-signs/