Toxic secret turns perfect home into living nightmare

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A family with four small children has learned they had been living in a house with toxic chemicals for three years. The house, located at 14828 Colonel Allan Court, was once a meth lab. But the new home owner said no one told him.

A number of public agencies are involved but no one is taking responsibility.

When Charmel Brown and her husband were looking for a rental home for their family they had two priorities, location and space. When they found the four bedroom house on Colonel Allan Court, they thought they had struck gold.

"We liked the area. It was in a good school zone, had a huge yard for the kids and of course a dog. We just loved it," Brown said.

The Browns loved the house so much Charmel said they considered buying it. But that quickly changed when, she said, a neighbor showed up at her door nine months after they moved in with some disturbing news.

"Hey, I just wanted to let you guys know you're living in a meth home," Brown said the neighbor told her.

Brown said a couple of weeks ago, while discussing disclosure laws in a real estate class, she sent her landlord, Adam Albarado, a text asking if the house she was renting was ever a meth lab.

"I immediately Googled it and found that indeed it had been a meth lab prior to me purchasing it," Albarado said.

Ablarado said when he bought the house in 2011 it was in foreclosure. He said the transaction showed no red flags.

"It didn't list any disclosures, that there were problems with the home," Albarado said.

Three years later, the house is listed as a meth lab on the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) website. The houses on the list are not removed until they are professionally cleaned.

The agency that makes the meth bust is responsible for reporting the address to the DEQ.

The bust at the house happened on July 13, 2009.

According to DEQ records, the East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office did not notify the state until April 9, 2012, nearly three years later.

Louisiana has a law that states the seller must disclose to a purchaser that a house was once a meth lab. However, there is no penalty for not doing it.

Albarado said had the sheriff office reported the incident to the state sooner it may have prevented a lot of headaches.

Albarado had hazardous chemical testers, Xtreme Cleaners, examine the house. On Saturday, he learned the results were positive. Traces of meth were still in the home.

"It's very distressing. Had I known this from the beginning I probably would have never purchased the property or taken appropriate remediation and never had a tenant live in those types of conditions for that long," Albarado said.

"We never smelled any odors. There was nothing that would allow us to pinpoint okay this was a meth lab home," Brown said.

The Browns moved out immediately without penalty.

Albarado is left with a house with no tenants and must pay $7,000 to get the house remediated.

"The next step is to talk to the sheriff's office and DEQ to see if any of them will accept responsibility for this," Albarado said.

The Browns are now living in a small two-bedroom apartment with friends.

The sheriff's office said the deputy who responded to the meth lab on Colonel Allen Court was working as part of a Drug Enforcement Administration task force, and therefore filed the paperwork with DEA.

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