Woman who moved into former meth house says drug history should be disclosed to families

Photo: Emily Williams

Under Tennessee law, renters and homeowners do not have to be told if their house was once a meth lab. That’s the situation a Portland family faced in 2016, when they say they were forced to move out due to health issues from previous drug activity.

Emily Williams said she started renting her Portland mobile home in the fall of 2015.

That’s when her then infant daughter, Harper, started getting chronic ear infections and other respiratory issues, which she says were not happening before they moved in to the property.

After almost a year of constant doctor visits and tests, a specialist suggested looking for mold in the home.

Williams said she found mold, and a quick Google search of her address revealed that the home had once been a meth lab: Something she said the landlord had never told her.

“If I had known ahead of time, I could’ve easily passed on this house, and would’ve,” Williams said in a phone interview Tuesday.

Soon after, she and Harper left, moving back to Oregon.

“And basically I had no other choice, it was, well, I can’t continue if this is the cause of making her sick,” Williams said. “I’m paying $700 a month, I can take my money elsewhere and hopefully be in a home that’s not going to continue to poison my daughter.”

A FOX 17 News investigation in 2016 revealed that the landlord, Ann Rawls, said she didn’t think about telling the homeowners because they had taken care of the issue.

According to the Tennessee Dangerous Drugs Task Force’s website, the home was quarantined after the bust in 2011.

Property Manager Judy Rawls said the home was then professionally cleaned, but a documenting mishap kept the property on the quarantined list anyway.

Rawls said they cleaned the home one more time when Williams moved out, and an updated record from the task force shows the home’s required cleanup was approved in February 2017.

Still, Williams insists renters and homeowners deserve to know if their home has a previous drug history.

“Sadly now, you have to really just start looking at your surroundings and go, just because it’s a nice home, or it’s a nice landlord, maybe there’s something else contributing to this, maybe there’s someone else not telling you the full story,” Williams said.

That’s why she’s encouraging others to do their research before moving in anywhere.

Within months of moving out, Williams said her daughter, who is now 3 years old, no longer had the health issues she had while living in the mobile home.

Judy Rawls says since Williams moved out, they have been telling renters about the home’s previous drug history, including the people who live there now.

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