Marijuana Grow Ops in Manitoba

Part 2: Asking Questions and Knowing Your Rights

I’m worried the home I’m considering buying may have been a grow op. What can I do to protect myself?

The real estate industry in Manitoba is regulated by the Manitoba Financial Services Agency (MFSA) under the Real Estate Brokers Act. The MFSA’s position is that salespeople and brokers must disclose whether a home was used as a marijuana grow op. In fact, there is a legal responsibility for agents to disclose any material latent defect about the condition of a home.

As a potential homebuyer, how can I tell if a home was used as a grow op?

A home used as a grow op will often need significant repair.

In an ideal situation, full remediation will already have taken place, which can provide peace of mind to homeowners knowing that their family’s health and safety are not being compromised. However, a potential buyer should seek specific details and/or photo evidence that clearly indicates all necessary remediation work has been done – don’t rely solely on the agent’s word.

In other situations, no repairs or only partial repairs may have been made. In these cases, some telltale signs that a home was a grow op may be apparent:

  • Evidence of mould on walls and ceilings
  • Modified ductwork
  • Stains on basement floors
  • Modified wiring and electrical panel
  • Warped or rotted wood structures due to excessive moisture
  • A skunk-like odour in the home
  • Circular holes in floor joists or roof trusses from venting (look for holes that have been patched)
  • Chunks of brickwork that have been replaced on the exterior of the home
  • New soffits or brown stains on soffits

What steps can I take to make sure I’m making an informed decision about a home purchase?

A potential buyer can take a number of actions to reduce the risk of buying a home damaged by marijuana cultivation:

  1. Ask for a Property Disclosure Statement (PDS) to be completed as a condition of your offer to purchase. A PDS includes a specific question: “Was the home ever used for cultivation of marijuana?” While the answer to this question hinges on the honesty and knowledge of the seller, it does provide some legal fallback if a problem is uncovered after the fact.
  2. Engage the services of a qualified home inspector. A home inspector should be able to recognize signs of a grow op. While an inspector can’t pull up carpet or rip down drywall, having a thorough inspection done does provide another layer of protection.
  3. Speak with an insurance broker about how a home’s potential history as a grow op could affect your future insurance rates.
  4. A potential buyer can also
    a. Check with Manitoba Hydro about any prior electrical concerns
    b. Have an indoor air quality test done
    c. Check whether any building permits were issued for that address
  5. Familiarize yourself with the red flags of a grow op by reading Realtor Information on Grow Ops from the RCMP and the Canadian Real Estate Association.
  6. View our video “The Facts about Property Disclosure Statements” to learn more.

What if I’m selling a home that has been used as a grow op?

If you are selling a home where marijuana has been grown, you are legally required to disclose any material latent defects – anything that could affect the safety or health of the new occupants. This requirement includes disclosure of damage caused by a grow operation.

Return to PART 1: Facts, Laws, and Effects

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