CHARLESTON, W.Va. – West Virginia landlords are concerned about a bill that got full Senate approval earlier this week. An amendment to Senate bill 204 removed payments from the state’s Crime Victim’s Compensation Fund to help landlords and homeowners pay for meth lab remediation.

Last year the fund forked over more than $800,000 to landlords, most of them from out of state, depleting the amount available for victim’s of other crimes. The current law provides up to $10,000 per claim for meth remediation.

Jackson County Sen. Mitch Carmichael said on the floor of the Senate, “If somebody walks into your rental unit with a ball bat or hammer and tears apart the place, we don’t compensate for that.”

Jennifer Rhyne, the president of the West Virginia Landlords Association, said there’s another side to the issue. She stressed no landlord intentionally rents out their property to meth makers.

Meth lab remediation is costly. Some properties will cost into the tens of thousands of dollars.

“As much as we screen tenants, do credit checks, do criminal background checks, it happens. Sometimes it’s somebody who has never had a criminal record before and they come in and do this and it only takes an hour to cook a batch of meth,” explained Rhyne.

She stressed landlords shouldn’t pay for the crimes of others.

“When the police do catch [the meth makers], it should be the person cooking the meth that’s responsible to clean it up. However, the law states that the owner is responsible to clean it up.”

Not only is Rhyne a landlord, she’s also a meth remediation contractor.

“Our rates go anywhere on the low end from around $5,000 to up to $15,000. That is just for the remediation,” according to Rhyne. “After the owner does the remediation, they have to replace carpets. They usually have to repaint. They have to replace all the furnishings.”

Most landlords, said Rhyne, don’t have $15,000 or $20,000 sitting in the bank to pay for it.

“The state gives you very little amount of time before the [remediation] has to be done before [landlords] become the criminal!”

Rhyne said she’s remediated properties from low-end rentals to a house worth more than $300,000. It runs the gambit. And it doesn’t just impact landlords. She’s currently working with a senior citizen who worked three jobs most of her life. She allowed her grandson to move into her home when he was in financial straits only to have him cook meth in the house. The fund currently would help her pay for the remediation. Under the proposed bill, Rhyne said the senior citizens would be out of luck and possibly out of her home she worked so hard to purchase.

The remediator stressed the cost to the Crime Victim’s Fund is minimal compared to what could happen. Landlords and homeowners who can’t afford to remediate their properties have to vacate them.

“It effects [neighbor's] property values. The home starts being vandalized. Kids will break in. It creates a community issue when you’ve got this meth house sitting there,” Rhyne explained.

She said the city is left with the cost of sending police patrols to chase trespassers out of the property, they eventually will have to pay for the building to be torn down, they no longer receive any taxes on the property and people no longer want to buy a home in that neighborhood.

She said lawmakers need to rethink the amendment and consider all the consequences of their actions.

The bill is now under consideration in the House.

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Comments

  • griff

    maybe the landlords should be picker who they rent to

  • HOSA

    OUR REPRESENTATIVES OUGHT TO DO THE RIGHT THING AN LOCK THEM UP. IF THEY DO THE CRIME THEY SHOULD HAVE TO DO THE TIME AND NOT JUST A SLAP ON THE WRIST AND RIGHT BACK OUT IN 2 DAYS JUST TO DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN. THIS IS WERE THE PROBLEM LIES . THIS BILL IS A DIASTER THAT DOESN'T SOLVE ANYTHING BUT TAKES THE RESPONSIBILITY OFF OF STATE. WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN WITH THE HOTELS?

  • LDB

    Should not be taxpayer's problem. Landlords should buy insurance and keep closer eye on their property.

  • wvtd

    why should I have to pay for it out of my hard earned tax dollars?

  • Jennifer McQuerrey Rhyne

    How about making the meth heads pay for cleanups? Why does the innocent homeowner have to foot the bill?

    • Billy

      Why not take money seized in drug raids and use that money to fix what the drug sellers have destroyed.

    • The bookman

      Because the meth heads usually don't have two dimes to rub together. 10 Grand? You know better than that don't you?

      • Jason412

        hahaha, it's true, but it still made me laugh pretty hard

  • Picklebee

    Why should my tax money be paid to a landlord who rented to a drug User?

  • I'm honest at least

    Our states money should not pay for the cleanup....I don't care how the money is generated. The payment should come from the renter and or the owners. Let the courts decide. This is money that should benefit the whole state.

  • mook

    The only way to remediation in a meth house is to send it to the dump!! You can not remove the chemicals from the house or contents, to render the property safe to live in !!

    • Jennifer McQuerrey Rhyne

      Houses can indeed be saved. The contents do go the landfill, but the drywall and most types of flooring can be cleaned to rid them of meth contamination. After the remediation is complete, the house is retested to ensure that it then meets the state limits.

  • Mark

    Carmichael is right. The state should not pay for clean up of private property.

  • ViennaGuy

    The landlords can take out insurance policies that will pay for the cleanup ... oh, wait a minute, why do that when the state will pay for it at no cost? Silly me ...

    • Jennifer McQuerrey Rhyne

      Insurance does not cover meth cleanups

      • ViennaGuy

        This insurance broker says it should be covered under the vandalism section of the policy, although there may be exceptions(and you may have to buy a rider to get the coverage).

        http://www.madisonaveins.com/news/meth-lab-cleanup/

        Allstate does offer vandalism riders for its landlord policies. Would it be cheap? Probably not.

        • The bookman

          From what I read, in WV, if a fire occurs as part of the lab contamination, then it could be covered. If no fire, then no coverage. Like you, I'm sure you could seek a company to specifically cover you, but that would probably be cost prohibitive. If I were a landlord, I would raise my rent tomorrow 200 bucks per unit per month, place it in escrow, and upon completion of the lease rebate half to the tenant. The odds are in some of these communities you are going to get burned if you have turnover in your units.

          Like your posts!

    • The bookman

      I don't believe the typical policy covers that type of damage. That having been said, it is not the tax payers burden to subsidize a for profit business or insure the high risk loss. Incorporate these costs into the standard lease and begin collecting the revenue to pay for the possibility of such occurrence. Glad they inserted the amendment that prohibits the disbursement.

      • Billy

        The taxpayer does not pay for the clean up. No tax dollars are spent. The crime victims fund money come from fines. Anytime a fine is paid there is a percentage of the fine that goes to the crime victims fund. Part of the fine also goes to the regional jail building fund.

        • The bookman

          Any money that passes through government coffers is part of the shell game of funds they use to fund services and programs. The lottery funds are a prime example. Notice how they decide to take lottery distributions and shift them to cover budgetary expenditures. Lottery collections aren't technically a tax, but they sure do spend the same. I get your point, though, and stand corrected.