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Real Estate Disclosure Forms, Contamination, and Meth Houses

As reported by the Indianapolis Star, the Indiana State Police have discovered 119 methamphetamine labs in Delaware County in the first 6 months of 2015.  The next highest was Noble County with 35.  While methamphetamine is an illegal substance that has wrecked many lives in Indiana, methamphetamine is also a large problem for realtors, landlords, and buyers and sellers of real estate due to the contamination that occurs in the houses and buildings where the meth is cooked.

Most Sellers of a 1-4 unit residential property are required to fill out a Seller’s Residential Real Estate Sales Disclosure Form per Indiana Code Section 24-4.6-2, et seq.  On page 2 under “Hazardous Conditions” the following question appears:  “Have there been or are there any hazardous conditions on the property…such as…toxic materials…?”  The Seller has the option to indicate “Yes,” “No,” or “Do Not Know.”  Methamphetamine contamination would be considered a toxic material.  With methamphetamine production, clean-up generally will involve, at a minimum, the removal of all surfaces that came in contact with the contaminants and removal of drywall down to the studs.  If a Seller fails to clean-up the condition or sells the property without disclosing the methamphetamine contamination, they could be liable to a Buyer for the failure to disclose.

If a house has been contaminated, there are also insurance issues that will need to be determined.  Does a landlord still have insurance coverage when a property is contaminated by a tenant?  Is there coverage for lost rent while the house is being cleaned up?  What about coverage if the health department or police order the house to be closed up until their investigations are completed?  As with all insurance questions, individual policies must be read entirely to determine whether there may be coverage for the landlord in these situations.

If you have concerns surrounding property you own that may have had an undisclosed methamphetamine lab in it or have questions surrounding your insurance coverage, contact the real estate attorneys at Goodin Abernathy, LLP to discuss your case.

Trump Invites Legal Permanent Residents to Vote

Donald Trump, a new presidential candidate, made various controversial statements about Mexicans this week. Trump said things like – “Mexico is not our friend . . . FIGHT!” So how might his views impact, or rather invigorate, potential U.S. voters?

Consider this: There are about 13.3 million Legal Permanent Residents (LPR’s) living in the U.S. – and 8.8 million of them are eligible to become U.S. citizens.

A significant portion of LPR’s are Mexican or Central American. The Department of Homeland Security reports that in the year 2013, 779,929 LPR’s became citizens.

If you are a LPR, you may be eligible to naturalize in time for the upcoming elections. Goodin Abernathy LLP and the attorneys at Legalmente Hablando Indy regularly help clients with immigration cases. Our services include guiding Hispanic immigrants through the naturalization process where LPR’s become voting U.S. citizens.

If you are a Legal Permanent Resident, to qualify for naturalization, you must be at least 18 years old; and you must have been a resident for 5 years (3 years if you are married to a US citizen and meet other requirements). Usually, you must pass an English and civics exam, but there are some exceptions. You also have to be a person of good moral character, which includes considerations about criminal history, payments of child support, registration for selective service (males only), and other factors we can discuss. You also must have been physically present and had your primary residence in the US for certain periods of time prior to your application.

LPR’s are not required to speak perfect English to naturalize. Yes, you must pass a test given in English, but the questions are straight-forward. Plus, spelling and grammar do not count against you on the written portion. We can provide names of various service organizations that prepare you for the citizenship exam. The services teach the English necessary for the tests.

If you are a Mexican national and want to keep your Mexican citizenship, it is possible for you to retain both your Mexican citizenship and become a U.S. citizen. This is called dual citizenship. Mexico recognizes dual citizenship. Other Latin American countries have different rules regarding dual citizenship we can review those with you.

If you want your voice to be heard in U.S. elections, contact Goodin Abernathy LLP to discuss your options!