A Landlord's Guide to Methamphetamine ("Meth") in Rental Properties
Meth contamination in rental properties has become a huge issue throughout New Zealand and properties that are heavily contaminated are considered to be unsafe to live in.
Contamination can occur from either meth manufacture at the property (generally resulting in severe contamination) or one or more of the occupants using meth inside the property.
There have been cases of tenants being able to:
- End their tenancy
- Get a refund of all the rent they have paid
- Receive compensation for contaminated clothing and furniture where a rental property has been found to be contaminated
The Head Adjudicator of the Tenancy Tribunal recommends testing between all tenancies. Doing so helps to make it clear to tenants that the property is safe and clear from meth contamination. Not only that but if the property tests positive at the end of a tenancy, the tenants can be held responsible for the damage. It's also likely that testing for methamphetamine between tenancies is required to unlock the meth cover in your insurance policy.
Should you get your brand new property meth tested?
Testing for meth before and after tenancies can protect you, the Landlord, from having to fork out tens of thousands of dollars. We’ve summarised the three key reasons to test your property for meth (even if it's a new build).
Who is responsible for covering the cost of methamphetamine damage & decontamination?
Provided it can be proven that the tenant was responsible for meth-related damage to the rental property, the tenant can be held liable for the cost to repair all damage and decontaminate the property. The average cost of repairing property damage caused by meth is $20,000. In addition to this, the Tenancy Tribunal may order tenants who have used a rental property for an unlawful purpose to pay a penalty of up to $1,000.
Methamphetamine damage is typically covered by landlord insurance policies that normally require a baseline test and/or testing in between tenancies to be eligible for cover. If the landlord claims insurance for methamphetamine-related damage, the insurer can pursue the tenant for the excess and all repair costs.
What types of meth testing options do Propertyscouts offer?
Most of our offices provide two options for meth testing: the Independent Laboratory Test or No Test. A limited number of offices also offer the Screening Test, administered by a qualified Propertyscouts agent.
Our requirement for all meth testing to be performed by qualified individuals helps to ensure that the tests meet the necessary standards for acceptance as evidence in the Tenancy Tribunal.
When you sign our management agreement, you will be asked to select your preferred test type. We strongly advise against opting out of meth testing due to the associated risks.
What happens if the meth screening test Propertyscouts does is positive?
The first test we carry out is ‘indicative’ only and is carried out in conjunction with a risk assessment of the property. Where we receive a positive screening test result we will retest with another screening test at our own cost in consultation with the property owner. If the second test is also positive we will engage the services of an independent contractor using a lab based testing system. The property owner will be responsible for the cost of any lab based test and additional costs such as decontamination should that prove necessary.
I have a brand new property, should I still test for meth before it is rented?
Yes, even a pristine property can be susceptible, whether from construction crews or transient access before settlement. There have been situations where landlords face substantial costs from not testing ahead of time. Testing can protect you from potential financial liabilities and fulfill your requirements for meth contamination insurance coverage.