Meth contamination

Why do I need a meth test between tenancies?

If you own a rental property you should know by now that there are a lot of rules and regulations that you must abide by in order to keep your tenants safe and sound. Many of you will have a Property Manager managing your property for you, but there is still a large proportion of investors who manage their own rental properties.

If you are a landlord and you rent out your property and it is contaminated with meth, you may be in breach of not just the Residential Tenancies Act 1986, but also the Building Act 2004 and the Health Act 1956. It is important to note that by law, a landlord must provide a clean and habitable rental property and the tenant must not use the property for any unlawful acts, including smoking or manufacturing methamphetamine.

Below we define further what the acts are in place for:

The Residential Tenancies Act 1986 requires landlords to provide and maintain rental properties in a reasonable state of repair. What is justified as reasonable greatly depends on the age and character of the property, as well as how long it is likely to remain habitable and available to be lived in.

The Building Act 2004, as you’d suspect, is the primary legislation governing the building industry. The purpose of this act is so people can use buildings safely and without endangering their health.

The Health Act 1956 gives the Ministry of Health the function of improving, promoting and protecting public health. In a nutshell, this act is there to protect our health.

The Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2019 was created to clarify the law in relation to tenant liability for damage, the treatment of unlawful residential premises and contamination of rental properties, such as meth contamination.

Tenants who use or manufacture meth and cause meth contamination are breaching the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975, the Residential Tenancies Act, as well as their obligation to not intentionally or carelessly damage the property. Tenants will usually be found liable for damage to the property from meth contamination, whether it was them or their guests who caused the damage. In most cases, the Tenancy Tribunal will order the tenant to pay a penalty of up to $1,000.

As of 27 August 2019, landlords are now allowed to test for meth contamination during a tenancy agreement. However, they must provide correct notice before entering the property which is 48 hours. The Residential Tenancies Act does not detail what level of meth contamination is acceptable.

There are two main sources of information that provide different opinions. The New Zealand Standard and the Gluckman Report which was written by the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor. Our Inspectors are trained and qualified to follow the New Zealand Standard, which states that a house is deemed contaminated if meth is present at levels higher than 1.5 µg/100 cm2.

It is important to ensure that your rental property insurance covers meth contamination and up to what value. Most insurances will only cover up to $30,000 of costs and many major decontamination jobs will cost close to this figure, if not more.

If you or your property manager are not conducting routine meth testing, especially between tenancies, you are at risk of not being covered by your insurance and liable to cover the cost of damages yourself. Our meth testing services start at as little as $249, why would you risk not having one done. Call us today to book your next inspection – 0800 422 386.

If you ever have any tenancy questions, please contact Tenancy Services.