What Do You Need to Do if One of Your Tenants Was Using or Cooking Meth at
Nobody wants to deal with this, but it is a reality for landlords and
building managers around the country. The EPA provides guidelines for how
to clean up a property after it has been used for meth. Let’s look at your
responsibilities when it comes to cleaning up one of these properties.
1. Work with law enforcement first.
If you suspect illicit drug use at one of your properties, it is important
that you work with the proper law enforcement agencies first. Do not enter
a property that you suspect has been contaminated with methamphetamines;
rather, allow local law enforcement to take the lead. Once they have
completed their investigation, you are ready to move on to the clean-up
2. Gather PPE and create ventilation.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) will keep you and anyone you are
working with safe from exposure to dangerous chemicals. You should also
create ventilation by opening doors and windows and using blowers and fans
to move air through the house. HEPA filtration systems help with this as
well. Do not use the HVAC system until it has been completely cleaned out.
3. Remove contaminated materials.
The EPA offers guidance on this: remove any contaminated materials and
drug paraphernalia from the house for destruction or cleaning and then
wait 24 hours with proper ventilation before re-entering the building.
This may include removing carpets, furniture, window treatments, and
anything else in the home.
4. Use commercial-grade cleaning equipment.
Your ordinary vacuum cleaner and mop will not be enough. You need to
vacuum with a commercial-grade machine that includes a HEPA filter. Before
you wash the walls, you will need to vacuum them as well.
5. Preliminary and follow-up washing.
Washing hard surfaces is going to be a two-step process. First, you will
wash everything down with detergent and water — not bleach. (Bleach +
chemicals used to create meth can cause a dangerous chemical reaction!)
You may need to test the water after washing to determine if it can be
disposed of onsite or if it is contaminated and needs to be treated as
hazardous waste. The second water washing will use a regular all-purpose
cleaner, and you will wash the walls, ceilings, and floors, as well as the
countertops, windows, and furniture.
6. Address the HVAC system.
The HVAC system should be off throughout this process. Cleaning out the
HVAC can be one of the most challenging aspects of remediation, especially
because you will need to clean the entire duct system. It is best to hire
HVAC and ventilation contractors for this part of the job.
7. Address plumbing and septic concerns.
Chemicals from meth labs are often disposed of through the house’s drains
and toilets. Plumbing systems can become corroded from these chemicals,
and you should have a complete inspection of your plumbing and septic
system to determine how they may have been affected.
8. After clean-up is complete, go through clearance testing.
Clearance testing shows your local governments and authorities that your
property is safe to be rented again