Their new home needed slightly
more help than they realized.
It’s an old story, really. A couple buys a house with a good location. They know it will require some "sweat equity" and hard work and money, but over time they know they can make it work.
But this couple couldn’t make it work because of a big lie.
John and Carla Hanks were looking for a nice place to live in Boulder County, Colorado. They found a great fixer-upper home for sale in Lafayette, Colorado. They bought it for $124,000 in the spring of 2011.
While they were cleaning it up and renovating, a neighbor happened to stop by:
"Hey, did you know about the previous owner of this place?"
"Yes, we just bought it from him."
"Well, did you know this used to be a meth house?"
No, they said, we did not know that our new dream home used to be a place where the previous owner had been cooking methamphetamine.
They had their house tested, and yes, it was badly contaminated with chemicals used to make meth. In fact, the contamination was among the worst ever seen from a meth house in Colorado. The Health Department told them they had to move out immediately, and, by the way, they had to leave behind all the stuff they’d just moved in, including their clothing, since it had also been contaminated.
They moved out, had to replace their possessions, and for two years paid the mortgage on a home they could not live in.
There is a law that protected them – sellers have to disclose certain things about the property they have for sale. And the seller, Kenneth Harrison Dimon, who knew that the house was used to make meth, broke that law.
Jane Walsh, the deputy district attorney in Boulder County who prosecuted Mr. Dimon, said:
"We don’t know of any other case lying and methamphetamine. Our office has not before criminally prosecuted someone who has lied when they sold a house."
Mr. Dimon pleaded guilty, and the couple was awarded about $49,000. They were also awarded $800,000 in a civil judgement against him, but have not received any of that money, since Mr. Dimon is in jail in North Carolina.
John and Carla Hanks did find another place to live. Outside of Colorado.
Lafayette couple gets restitution, civil award after buying meth house, The Denver Post>>