Home buyers beware -- Winnipeg real estate rules about grow-ops changed

Winnipeggers who are shopping for their dream home this spring will face a new barrier in determining a house’s history.

Starting June 1, MLS listings will no longer indicate whether a house was a former marijuana grow-op or not.

Winnipeg Realtors sent out the notice to real estate agents on Thursday informing them of the change, citing potential defamation and privacy risks as the reason behind removing the information from ads.

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Peter Squire, Vice President of External Relations with Winnipeg Realtors said the move wasn’t meant to hide information from potential buyers.

“It’s really trying to balance disclosure requirements with current privacy rights,” Squire said.

“We are certainly telling our members they still are required to disclose if they come to know that it’s a former grow-op.”

Also starting in June, even the former MLS listings of a house will have the grow-op information removed. In the memo sent out to real estate agents, Winnipeg Realtors advised agents to create their own records.

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“It is important that you maintain your own personal records regarding any grow-op disclosures that have been made (eg. print off the listing with the grow-op disclosure information before it is no longer active/pending) on any listings you have listed and/or sold,” said the memo.

But real estate brokers like Tracy Granger with T Real Estate worry about the change.

“My initial reaction is if we have that information, in this age of transparency, isn’t that of utmost importance to keep that information available for our clients? I think that’s really important,” she said.

Granger’s colleague Jonathan Bueckert said he’s concerned about how it will make it more difficult for realtors to determine the house’s past.

“It’s just going to take a little more time for us to dig into and look into the home and its history and figure it out. But once people do know of course it affects their decision and this is part of why the change is coming in the first place because of the stigma with these grow-ops,” he said.

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The Winnipeg Police Service does keep an online public record of homes in the city that were grow-ops, but that database only goes back to December 2015.

Squires stressed that agents selling homes that were grow-ops must still disclose the house’s history, but said there are no guidelines for how an agent gets that information out to potential home buyers.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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