3 Reasons to Get Your Brand New Property Meth-Tested
24 November 2021

3 Reasons to Get Your Brand New Property Meth-Tested

So, you've just purchased a BRAND NEW rental property? Congratulations! There's little chance that it has been contaminated by methamphetamine. Why then, do you still need a meth test?

In short, testing for meth before and after tenancies can protect you, the Landlord, from having to fork out tens of thousands of dollars in the long run. 

Still not convinced? We’ve summarised the 3 key reasons why you need to test your property for meth, even if it’s a new build.

1. Not doing it could cost you thousands!

Under the Residential Tenancies Act 1986, if you rent out a meth contaminated property, you are breaching your obligations as a landlord and it may end up costing you tens of thousands of dollars. That’s potentially enough to cover the costs of meth testing your property for at least 20 years!

If you unwittingly rent out a contaminated property, the tenants are entitled to:

  • Be excused from the lease.
  • A full or partial rent refund from you, the Landlord, of any rent they have paid to date. Depending on the length of the tenancy and weekly rent payment, this can easily reach into the tens of thousands of dollars.
  • Reimbursement, again from your pocket, for any items that may be contaminated. Items may include clothes and furniture.

Additionally, if you knowingly rent out a contaminated property, you will be liable for a financial penalty of up to $4,000.

At the Tenancy Tribunal, ignorance is not a good defence. Doing a meth test at the start of a tenancy means that if there’s a positive result at the end of the tenancy, the tenants can be held responsible.

2. Without a base line test, tenants can get off without consequences.

So, we’ve established that testing between tenancies makes sense, but it still seems odd to consider meth testing a brand new property. The fact that it has never been inhabited should be enough to prove the tenants are at fault (should a positive meth reading occur at the end of the tenancy), right? Not necessarily. For all the Tenancy Tribunal knows, anyone who had been given access to the property prior to settlement could have contaminated the property. 

If you want to ensure you won’t be out of pocket, get a base line test. If you don’t, and there’s a positive result at the end of the tenancy, the tenants can get off scot-free, meanwhile, you’re forced to foot the bill.

3. A base line test is often a requirement for meth contamination insurance cover.

It costs on average $20,000 to decontaminate a property. Add that to the consequences of renting out a contaminated property, and the total costs rise steeply.

The good news is, if you have meth contamination cover from your insurer, you may be able to claim for meth testing, decontamination and reinstatement work.  However, it is often a requirement for any meth contamination cover that a base line test is conducted before the tenancy begins, to prove the property was free of contamination.

At Propertyscouts, generally, we test for meth contamination between all tenancies as part of our risk management process. In doing so, new tenants can be reassured that the property is safe to move into, and our landlords can avoid future heartbreak. 

The bottom line is, whether you’ve just purchased a new build or you’re in between tenancies, it’s best to just do the test!



DISCLAIMER: The above advice is written by Propertyscouts New Zealand (2020) Limited and is intended as a broad guide for educational purposes only. The advice should not be regarded as legal, financial or real estate advice. In all instances, you should make your own inquiries and seek independent professional advice tailored to your specific circumstances before making any legal, financial or real estate decisions.