CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A bill pending in the Senate Finance Committee, with less than two weeks left in the 2014 Regular Legislative Session, would end reimbursements for meth lab cleanups through the West Virginia Crime Victims Compensation Fund.

It’s a change to the current law that Senator Mitch Carmichael (R-Jackson, 4) said makes sense.  “West Virginia was the only state in the nation that, within the Crime Victims Compensation Fund, would pay $10,000 to a landlord for any meth lab cleanup expenses….that occurred within their property,” he said.

“In a limited fund, should we really be taking money that was otherwise meant for victims of crime that were uncompensated and diverting that to give to a landlord to clean up their property for, in my opinion, a duty they should have had anyhow?”

State officials have said the state paid more than $700,000 for meth lab claims just last year through the Crime Victims Compensation Fund and, unlike when payments are made to other crime victims, the federal government does not reimburse the state for meth lab cleanups.  The federal reimbursement rate is 60 cents for every dollar spent.

Most homeowner insurance policies do not pay meth lab claims because there are exclusions, in many policies, for chemical contaminations.

Last week, members of the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved the change to the bill that, overall, deals with how victims of all crimes are compensated.

The 2014 Regular Legislative Session will end on Saturday, March 8.  To stay alive, SB 204 would have to advance to the House by Wednesday — the deadline for bills to move out of the chambers where they were introduced.

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Comments

  • griff

    the landlord shouldn't have to pay for the cleanup. But then, maybe landlords should keep closer track of their properties.

  • Brian

    Don't use taxpayer money to clean these properties! We already have to purchase uninsured motorist insurance for deadbeats on the road. They don't pay vehicle repairs for these criminals who damage legal drivers' vehicles. Make the renters pick up the tab, not the working class. Maybe insuring the renters and another policy for the landlord. Personally, I'd weed out the deadbeats through a $50 drug test they pay for as well as a huge security deposit.

  • Billy

    They should look for another source of funding. What happens to the money and other property when they bust someone for selling drugs? I see in the papers all the time where they are taking thousands of dollars, cars, and other belongings from drug dealers. I think it would be better to use that money, taken from them to clean up some of their messes. Otherwise you will end up with more condemned houses in WV.
    Most landlords can't afford to pay thousands to clean a meth house, so they will probably just walk away from the property. State law requires you to get it cleaned. I guess that landlords who do not could be arrested. They will probably get more time than the person who had the meth lab.

  • Billy

    Money does not come from taxes. It comes from fines and court cost.

  • hurting regular people

    This is only going to hurt regular people looking for places to live and landlords not disclosing the place he is renting was used for meth this is close to what we are experiencing rt now with the water crisis this going to lead to bigger problems and they know it don't care money is King.

  • ViennaGuy

    Why is the state reimbursing - or perhaps better asked, why are taxpayers reimbursing - landlords for meth lab cleanups anyway? Shouldn't landlords be trying to screen potential tenants for this type of activity? Clearly, you're not going to be able to screen them out 100% of the time, but where's the responsibility of the landlords?

    • Billy

      In WV there were 288 meth labs reported in 2012. In 2013 it increased to 533. Not everyone who makes it uses it, some do it for profit. You cannot require a blood sample or other bodily fluids from a potential tenant. So how can you better screen them? The fund does pay for the clean up. but not everything involved. If the house had carpet and appliances that cost is on the landlord.

      • ViennaGuy

        - You cannot require a blood sample or other bodily fluids from a potential tenant. So how can you better screen them? -

        A criminal background check and past employment screening would be a good starting point.

        If landlords are worried about the cost of a cleanup, they can take out an insurance policy to cover it. The renters can pay the premium through a boost in the monthly rental payment. It is not the responsibility of government to clean up a meth lab. If there is a government responsibility, it would be only to oversee the cleanup and make sure it's done properly.

    • KeatonsCorner

      I believe it was a good idea, in theory. The screening process for folks renting is never going to be extensive enough to predict future behaviors, nor be legally able to drug test before acceptance....

      Instituting a reward-based reporting system offered an alternative to landlords willing to look the other way in order to keep their revenue coming in.

      Assuming the funding gets cut, it would, I assume, indicate that reportings did not take off like legislatures assumed they would.

  • The truth

    I can see five years from now the state complaining about all these unfixed and abandoned homes. Turning the landlords into second class citizens.