Methamphetamine; is it still an issue in Auckland Rentals?
I often have people ask me “Is meth even an issue anymore? I thought it wasn’t!” And the truth is Meth Contamination can have a huge impact but you need to be careful how you manage this risk.
If you are considering buying a home, a Meth Test is a smart move. They are reasonably cheap (often no more than $250 + GST) and the test will create a clean baseline for you moving forward. If there is some level of contamination, you can get it resolved (often at the vendors cost) or walk away from the deal. The test gives you knowledge and options.
Once you have that baseline ‘clean’ meth report, it’s important to protect it. With a rental property this means having it checked between tenancies. It means if contamination is found you have strong evidence that this happened during the tenancy and can apply for some of the costs to clean the property and clear the contamination. Insurance will often assist here too.
Frequently, owners (who have owned their rental properties for some time) ask if they should start checking their properties for Meth. This is a great thing for the rental market as providing healthy and clean homes is so important to attract and keep quality tenants. The tests are best completed when the property is vacant and a clear result should come back before your new tenants have moved in. Keep in mind that if the test returns a positive result, the cost to remedy will be yours as you had no baseline test before your tenants moved in, you cannot hold them liable.
Many insurance policies still cover Meth Contamination although this is often limited to $25,000. Please check that you have Meth Cover in place before testing a property you own.
There are currently two levels of contamination that are referenced. The Methamphetamine Testing and Remediation Standard (NZS 8510) , which is considered best practice at 1.5 µg/100cm2 and which property managers have typically looked to under health and safety guidelines. Then those set out in the Gluckman Report that refer to methamphetamine levels below 15 µg/100 cm2 as being unlikely to give rise to any adverse health effects.
Property owners are caught between a rock and a hard place whilst waiting on firm guidelines from the Government on the acceptable levels for methamphetamine and other contaminants present in a rental property.. The Ministry of Health still uses the existing Standard (NZS 8510), which says that ‘high use areas’ of meth affected properties should be decontaminated — regardless of whether the property was involved in the production or use of methamphetamine. While for rental properties, the majority of tenancy tribunal adjudicators refer to the Gluckman Report, some use the New Zealand Standard, and others use a combination of both when making a ruling. With two sets of guidelines to follow it is difficult to get a fair outcome.
The Government has advised that we can expect to be provided additional guidance in the next six to twelve months. REINZ has prepared an information sheet to inform and assist landlords in deciding what is best for their property until such time.
If you want to know more about methamphetamine risk management for rental properties All Clear Group have some excellent resources and are a wealth of knowledge.
Any questions? Get in touch – we are here for a chat or to put you in touch with the right people.