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You think you live in a nice home


ELDERLY COUPLE SUFFERS AFTER UNKNOWINGLY BUYING MOULD-FILLED HOUSE IN BRAMALEA RAIDED BACK IN JUNE

 

By ALAN CAIRNS, TORONTO SUN

 

AN AILING elderly couple who unwittingly bought a former marijuana grow house could face $25,000 in bills to repair their mouldy new Bramalea home. Urbano, 74, a retired hospital cleaner, needs a cane to walk and suffers from asthma, diabetes and high blood pressure. His wife Antoinetta, 70, has crippling arthritis and can barely walk. She has had 13 operations for sinus problems and has high blood pressure.
The couple -- who as

 

ked that their last name not be used -- bought the bungalow in September so they could move from Kitchener to live on one floor and be close to a caring daughter. But, since moving in, Urbano and Antoinetta have suffered various new ailments, including constant headaches, sore throats, dizziness, nosebleeds and exhaustion.


WEED LAB
They learned after closing that the bungalow is a former marijuana grow house. The Sun has confirmed the house was raided June 29 this year and that a sophisticated weed lab and 370 pot plants were removed.
A mould inspector two weeks ago verified that mould is on the floorboards, in the furnace vents and in the attic.
Now, they are trying to figure out who knew what and when.
"This is a disgrace," said the couple's daughter, Maria Kanga.
"When you breathe in these (mould) spores you cannot see them. It is like fighting a ghost. You think you live in a nice home and you are actually being (harmed) by what you are breathing."

 

Kanga is appalled at her parents' predicament.
The seller asked $269,000 for the corner-lot house, which was listed by realtor Sandy Kennedy of Re/Max Realty Services Inc., located in Brampton. Kennedy told the Sun he had done nothing wrong.


He said that prior to the sale, the vendors declared under oath it had not been a grow house. He said a reputable home inspector found nothing wrong with the property in a pre-sale exam.


Kanga said her parents believed the home was "perfect" because it was on a quiet court, had a wheelchair access ramp and an electric elevator to the basement.


Kanga and her parents told their realtor and family friend, Robert Harvey, of Sutton Group Tower , that they really wanted the house and would pay whatever it took to get it.


"When we walked into the house, what we saw was a fairly updated and renovated house that looked in good condition. Above and beyond that, we also saw a house that fitted their needs because it was wheelchair accessible," Harvey said. "We saw the house, we saw the property, and were quite happy with it. As far as a grow house, it never even entered our mind."
Harvey said he urged Kanga's parents to "cool their heels" for a better deal. They offered $15,000 under the asking price.
The seller ultimately agreed to a price of $263,900. The elderly couple went in with an offer of a $10,000 down payment, a cash payment upon closing and agreed to an early closing date.

SWORE UNDER OATH
Kanga's parents inked the deal Sept. 26 and moved in Oct. 8.
Kanga said her parents were clueless about the home's past use until her dad met a neighbour and was told that Peel Regional Police had raided the home in June.


When she called Kennedy after the closing, Kanga said he initially told her to ignore "nosy" neighbours.
Kanga said she called police, who confirmed the bust. She then hired mould expert Frank Haverkate. His mould-sniffing dog, Quincy , picked up the scent of mould in the main floorboards, in the attic and in all of the air vents.
Haverkate, who did an environmental inspection and tests at the house, said although visual evidence of mould appears not to be severe, a laser-particle counter found high amounts of debris in the air, which he said he believes are residual mould spores from a "botched clean-up job."


Haverkate said while air samples are still being analysed, he estimates it could cost up to $25,000 to clean up the home.
Kennedy, the real estate agent for the seller, denies any wrongdoing, saying he is "99.9% sure I did absolutely nothing wrong and I (sold the house) by the code, by the rules."


Kennedy said the seller swore under oath and "swore up and down" the home was not a marijuana grow house.
"I have a written declaration from my owner. I have it in writing, signed and notarized," Kennedy said.
Kennedy said Harvey made two mistakes when he neglected to write into the offer the following two conditions: 1) the home must pass an inspection, and 2) the seller must declare the home was never used as a grow house.
Kennedy said Harvey had a fiduciary duty to protect his client, while "my fiduciary duty was to protect my client."
"(Harvey) was a family friend. He came in, put this deal together in 24 hours ... wham, bam, thank you ma'am," Kennedy said.
Kennedy acknowledged the seller's denials that the home was a grow house came after an earlier purchase offer.
"(The seller) vehemently denied that it ever was (a grow house) and gave me a written declaration that it wasn't," Kennedy said. "The agent's job for the buyer is to confirm that (the) information is accurate and to put the appropriate clauses in the offer to protect his buyer. That's all I need to go on."


Kennedy said a pre-sale inspection was done by a reputable Brampton home inspector who "doesn't think it was a marijuana grow house."


Kennedy said he has a copy of that inspection report. He seemed certain the issue is headed for court and said he would be happy to present his evidence at that time. He said the seller would "probably respond" in court.
Harvey, the couple's real-estate agent, said it would not have mattered if he had put a grow house declaration clause into the offer.
"What am I going to get ... a vendor who is going to lie to me? I can write that clause 27 days a week and it doesn't make any difference ... (the seller) is still going to deny it."


Harvey said Kanga and her parents want to keep the property, but they want the sellers to pay for a proper cleanup.
The Sun talked with three neighbours, each of whom claims to have independently told Re/Max agents when the house was up for sale that it had been a grow-op.


One woman said she asked an agent -- who was not Kennedy -- how they hoped to sell the home, given its history and agent-disclosure obligations. She said that agent told her that there are times when "we do not have to disclose," and then gave her the brush-off.


One man said when he called Kennedy about the house, he said Kennedy told him it was not a grow house. The man and his wife say they argued to the contrary, telling Kennedy they saw police remove lights and bags and that the owners later had arranged for a vacuum truck to take out soil.


A third neighbour said he confronted an open-house agent -- who was not Kennedy -- and asked him, "Did you know this was a grow house?"


"He said, 'I don't know that,' " the neighbour said.
"I said, 'You know now ... and Sandy (Kennedy) should know, and you should know that this was busted by police.'"
But the neighbour said the open-house agent "didn't seem to be that interested."
Kennedy said the above statements from the three neighbours "aren't true," and if the couple who bought the house had been "done wrong," then he is "disappointed."


Kennedy said he is "more than happy" to go to court "and show that we did our due diligence at our end.
"And I think that the facts will show that ... that we did everything by the book, by the rule, to the T."

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