Property managers get tips on spotting possible meth cookers

Courier and Press April 20, 2011

EVANSVILLE — In a Tuesday night presentation, Evansville Police Detective Mike Gray taught a group of rental property owners and managers how to spot a meth lab.

Any signs such as expended blister packs of cold medicine, opened cold packs or shredded batteries would warrant a call to the police Gray said.

"They will tear your property apart," Gray told the group of about 68 people at a Central Library meeting room. "You'll have the health department telling you to rip out all your carpet."

Gray's presentation was only one part of a seminar held by the Property Owners & Managers Association of Evansville.

Building Commissioner Benjamin Miller followed Gray's presentation with an explanation of the city's new rental property registry.

Those on the voluntary list will pay $10 per unit. If a tenant or neighbor files a claim with the city against a property, its landlord will be informally contacted.

Also, landlords will receive a license to do limited repairs on their properties that normally require a permit.

Miller said his office also will work with landlords who have a desire to bring their properties into compliance.

But those landlords who opt out of the registry will face tougher standards. Rather than paying $10 per unit, they will pay $100, he said.

By singling out the landlords who chose not to take part in the registry, the city can pinpoint those who may allow the presence of drug production, sales and use.

"This way, we're singling those bad ones out," Miller said.

Some property owners were cautiously optimistic of the registry. Rick Kissel said he was glad to see the progression.

"I think they're going in the right direction," Kissel said. "I think it's positive the city and the landlords are looking at this together."

Mike Wilson said he was reserved with mix feelings.

"There's an upshot in it and a down shot," Wilson said. "Sometimes you get mislabeled as a slumlord and that's not fair. These are our investments, and we put our hard earned money into them."

Wilson also said the city should look at ways to find tenants just as responsible as the property owner or manager.