Hero Image

Meth Contamination


Methamphetamine and your property. 

Methamphetamine is here in Marlborough and unfortunately, is being found in rental properties, including those managed by Harcourts. We can't change this and nor can we hide from it. Owning a rental property, like any investment, is not without risk but our role as property managers is to minimise the risk and manage the process in the event of damage to your property. Finding a property is contaminated can be an extremely stressful and emotional situation for the owner and the property manager. Our first priority is safety and we work closely with the companies who are involved in the testing process for advice.  

We have put together the following Q & A sheet with some expected questions you may have regarding the management process of your property and methamphetamine. In the event that your tenant is vacating,your property manager will discuss options with you. 


Questions & Answers

Q - What properties are Harcourts testing? 

A - We are recommending that all properties are tested as soon as the current tenant vacates. 


Q - Do I have to have my property tested when my tenant vacates? 

A - Meth testing is not mandatory. Until we have legislation instructing us on this we need act in the best interests of both the owners and tenants. 


Q - Why can't you test the property while the current tenant is still living there?  

A - If the test is negative and the tenant has not yet vacated the property, we cannot use that test as a baseline to hold the subsequent tenant liable. To do that, we must test when the property is vacant.  


Q - I don't want the property vacant for any longer than necessary. Do I have to wait for the result before the tenant moves in?  

A - Some tenants will not move into a property that has not been tested and a result known. We have to respect that decision. We can obtain test results as quickly as 3 working days after the sample has been taken so we do have options to speed up the process. The normal time is 7 working days. If the tenant is happy to move in before the results are known and the test comes back positive we will need to move the tenant out immediately and you may be responsible for some costs associated with that. 


Q - Can a tenant carry out a test without my authority? 

A - As the occupants of the property they are entitled to test for contamination? 


Q- What if the tenant tests the property and it is contaminated even though I didn't want the test done in the first place?

A -As a property owner, you have certain responsibilities to your tenants. One of these is to provide a house that is clean and well maintained and this also includes free from meth contamination. Unfortunately, that is the law and not testing does not absolve us from our responsibilities under the law . 


Q - lf the property is contaminated who is to blame?  

A - We totally understand that you would want to blame someone, but as we don't have a baseline test there is no way of knowing when the contamination occurred. It could have been years ago.


Q - Who pays for the clean-up if my property is contaminated?  

A - In the first instance the cost associated with the decontamination is the responsibility of the owner.Your insurance company will guide you on this and we recommend you review your insurance policy and discuss what they will cover. If we have a base line test result and the tenant is responsible, your insurance company will look to the tenant for compensation. 


Q - I have heard that contaminated properties can cost tens of thousands of dollars to clean up.  

A -There are a lot of scary stories out there and until such time as we know the contamination levels we have no idea of costs. In some cases commercial cleaning with the appropriate solutions and replacement of soft furnishings is sufficient.  


Q - Can we evict the tenants if we suspect they are doing meth? 

A - If we can prove that they are smoking meth in the property, and therefore intentionally damaging the property, Tenancy Tribunal will support us in getting a quick eviction. 


Q - What level is deemed positive for meth?  

A - Ministry of Health guidelines are 0.5 micrograms per 10cm square sample site. Most initial baseline tests are a composite of up to 8 - 10 swabs and therefore the combined result shows a much higher level than the contamination of any individual room. For example, a baseline test returned a composite result of 5.5mg but the highest reading in any individual room was 0.85mg. There is a lot of emotion surrounding the subject but it is important to remember that these results indicate very low level contamination from use. 


Q - What is a high level of contamination? 

A - From the information we have it would seem that levels of 20mg and above in a single sample would indicate manufacture of some description. Clan labs readings would start at around 50mg. Please add your content here.