The Meth Mine Field

methProperty investors will sigh with relief the seizure of a huge amount of methamphetamine in Northland this week will not make it’s way into one of their rental properties.  It’s a massive haul with a street value comparable to a Top 50 company. Auckland International Airport’ annual revenue last year was just slightly more and so too Sky City’s revenue for six months says a news item on stuff.co.nz.

Meth contamination is a big threat to rental properties as it’s popularity grows.  Clean up costs are in the tens of thousands and investor experiences with contamination are now on PropertyTalk.com including this discussion:  Meth testing between tenancies which has nearly clocked up 20,000 views in just nine weeks.

Meth Testing between tenancies is not yet mandatory but failure to do so may be seen as negligence, and result in a hefty clean up bill and penalties if tenants were allowed to live in the property.

From APIA blog:

Kristine King from Duncan King Law further clarifies,

Whilst mandatory methamphetamine testing will not be part of our laws in the near future, it may be that individual organisations including letting agents will adopt this requirement as part of their internal health and safety policy from 4 April. This would be done to push the liability for testing to the owners. Accordingly we recommend that owners contact organisations such as their letting agents and insurers and enquire as to their requirements for methamphetamine testing.

We have reached out to Worksafe and have been advised, verbally, that the new HSWA is a principal based piece of legislation which does not contain a black and white list of known hazards and it certainly makes no specific mention of methamphetamine tests at rental properties. However, landlords (as PCBUs under the Act) have a duty of investigating further and mitigating a known potential/or suspected risk. General ignorance will not likely be a defence. We are in the process of obtaining an written opinion form Worksafe to circulate to our members.

From the discussion on PropertyTalk.com

“A recent (March) Tenancy Tribunal ruling has a landlord paying $7500 as compensation for tenants who unknowingly moved into a meth-contaminated property. The PM (who was also unaware) didn’t do a baseline test.”

This is a minefield- according to another investor…

“Properties can get contaminated by a tenant carrying the stuff into a property on their clothes and in their body fluids.

Once a tenant contaminates your property the owner can be fined for letting it happen and not knowing about it.

Well that is what the courts are saying.”

Landlords are adding additional clauses to Residential Tenancy Agreements and some of them are saying they will pay for a test before the end of a tenancy to ensure liability for additional testing and clean up if a positive test is present is not on them.


This blog article was written for PropertyBlogs by Mobilize Mail.

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