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If a methamphetamine lab is busted in Cuyahoga Falls, the property owner must pay to have it dismantled and hauled away.

The City Council last week voted to pass along the $1,000 to $2,000 cleanup charge to the property owner. If the lab is in a rental property, the landlord will get the bill.

This cleanup charge will be in addition to the bill for decontamination of the property once a police investigation is finished. That cost can range from $3,000 to $5,000.

Cuyahoga Falls uses the Summit County Drug Unit to assist with investigations. When officers find an active meth lab, the drug unit calls in a private company to dispose of the chemicals. The company then bills the county.

From July through September, the county was billed more than $16,000 for the disposal of chemicals used to make meth, Cuyahoga Falls police Chief Tom Pozza said.

Pozza said he asked the City Council to approve the ordinance in anticipation of the sheriff’s office passing the cost to the communities.

Dennis E. Bates, former president of the Falls Landlord Council and a landlord for 40 years, said he thinks there should be exceptions.

“Usually what would be happening is there’s a tenant who passes your screening and then has a friend or relative come in and use the house for a meth lab,” Bates said. “If you have those kinds of situations, to put the burden on the landlord is just not right.”

A member of the Summit County Drug Unit has attended Landlord Council meetings to teach property owners what to look for during routine inspections to identify possibly illegal drug activity.

“We’re watching constantly for signs,” Bates said.

Pozza said he sympathizes with Bates and other landlords who may find themselves with an unexpected bill for chemical disposal.

“He has a good point, but I don’t want taxpayers’ money to go for the cleanup,” Pozza said. “Landlords can sue the [tenant] to recoup their money.”

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