Meth Solutions director Miles Stratford says landlords can market their rental properties as free of any methamphetamine lab contamination and achieve higher returns. All that is required is a paper trail of testing which proves your property is clear. The experience of some landlords is that aware tenants are prepared to pay a premium for this reassurance.
A large proportion of methamphetamine labs are found in rental properties. Police are constantly working hard to locate and prosecute operators but many more methamphetamine labs remain undetected. However, should you suspect that such a lab has been operating in your property, or worse is currently operating, you could have a major problem on your hands.
In this situation there are three possible scenarios.
You can ignore the problem, use whatever means at your disposal to evict the tenants, tidy up the property, and hope the contamination, if any, will go undetected until the property is sold or relet. If your suspicions are correct, the problem will only get worse as the health effects from inhalation of vapours and gasses are nausea, dizziness and headaches. Tenants experiencing these symptoms will complain and, under the RTA, you are obliged to provide a home which is fit to live in. You would therefore be obliged to go through a regime of testing for methamphetamine and possibly cleansing of the property.
You could report your suspicions to the police who will watch the property and bust the lab if there is one. This would then result in prosecution of the operators, the contamination being reported to the local authority and noted on the property’s LIM report. An expensive regime of testing and cleaning would follow but, even when the property is deemed to be clear, there would still be mention of the situation on the LIM report.
You may decide to deal with the situation yourself and arrange testing and any necessary cleaning plus further testing to show the property is clear. Just as expensive an option as the other two scenarios, the advantage is that there would be no information on the LIM report. Also on the positive side you would have a paper trail to prove the property is clear for future tenants.
Regular testing for methamphetamine manufacture and use can be part of your regular processes for the management of your rental properties. The resulting paper trail is an invaluable when marketing your properties and selecting your tenants. You will attract tenants who value the reassurance and will pay extra to have it.
Proof that your rental properties are completely clear of contamination is also valuable information when insuring your properties. It is important to check and understand what your insurance policy says about claims for methamphetamine contamination. Different insurers have different schemes for the levels of damage resulting from contamination and the cleaning process.
Standards New Zealand has given Local Government New Zealand a proposal for developing a standard on the testing and remediation of properties where the manufacture or use of methamphetamine is suspected or proved. This would result in a standardised approach to dealing with methamphetamine but it could mean that property owners are legally obliged to disclose contamination on LIMs even when the property is proved to be completely clear. Although a standard of this nature will take months to develop and be implemented, it is not too soon to be thinking about its effect on you and your properties.
For more information contact Miles Stratford at Miles.Stratford@methsolutions.co.nz
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