- Rented’s Meth policy is to always complete a baseline test prior to the start and at the end of each tenancy
- A Meth Disclaimer form must be signed by all owners prior to a new tenancy starting.
- Baseline tests will need to be compliant with the new standards. Our minimum recommendation is a multi wipe field composite.
- Any signs of Meth needs to be reported to the Police immediately
- If an owner wishes to go ahead with a Meth test during a Tenancy where no baseline test was conducted they will need to sign an Intermediate Disclaimer
- Provide background on the risk of Methamphetamine
- Detail potential signs of methamphetamine use or production
- What to do if you discover a methamphetamine laboratory
- What are safe levels of methamphetamine inside an enclosed structure
- Testing for methamphetamine
- Protocols for dealing with sitting tenants in contaminated properties
- Inspection Notice
- Companies we use for Methamphetamine testing
- This policy applies to all Licensees, employees, owners, tenants and anyone who visits or occupies Rented Property Management’s properties.
Rented Property Management promotes safe and healthy living conditions for all tenants and family who visit tenants in properties under our management. Rented properties should be free from illegal drugs at all times as stated in our Management Agreement.
New Zealand Law classifies methamphetamine as a Class A controlled drug – a drug that poses a significantly high risk of harm – under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975, with increased penalties for offenders importing, manufacturing and distributing the drug. Methamphetamine is highly addictive and abuse can lead to memory loss, aggressive behaviour, violence, psychotic and paranoid behaviour, and potential cardiac and neurological damage.
In addition to the dangers of methamphetamine abuse, the manufacturing process presents its own hazards. The production of methamphetamine requires the use of hazardous chemicals, which commonly include pseudoephedrine, iodine, acetone lead and mercury. The chemicals used are toxic to human health, corrosive (acids), explosive, flammable (solvents) and eco-toxic to the environment. Manufacturers of methamphetamine often have limited knowledge of the chemical hazards and little concern for public safety or the environment. A significant health risk is posed by acidic and potentially flammable fumes and waste chemical by-products produced during the cooking process. Similarly, the clandestine nature of the cooking process, often in confined and poorly ventilated spaces, combined with the illegal dumping of chemical wastes down kitchen sinks. Toilets and storm water drains, all contribute to a potentially hazardous contaminated site. Based on overseas experiences, the risk of clandestine lab fire or explosion is high.
4. Potential Signs of Methamphetamine Production or Use
The list below details potential indicators of methamphetamine production or use.
- Unusual chemical smells that are not normally present in that area
- Numerous chemical containers (labelled solvent, acid, flammable) stored or stockpiled
- Plastic containers in the rubbish with labels removed
- Numerous cold tablet packages lying around or in the rubbish
- Containers with clear liquids with a chalky coloured solid on the bottom or similar
- Containers with two layered liquids; one dark coloured and one clear or pale-yellow layer
- Stained glass equipment or cookware
- Plastic or glass containers fitted with glass or rubber tubing
- Used coffee filters containing either a white pasty or reddish-brown substance
- Baking dishes or similar containing a white crystalline substance
- Portable gas tanks or other cylinders not normally seen or used in the area
- Needles and any other associated paraphernalia like belts, cigarette filters, and antiseptic swabs
- Large quantities of tin foil
- Very small plastic zip lock bags
- Chemical stains around household kitchen sink, laundry, toilet or storm drains
- Yellow/brown staining of interior floor, wall, ceiling and appliance surfaces
- Any unusual activity, particularly at night
- Exhaust fans running at odd times
- Frequent visitors at odd hours
- Windows blackened or curtains always drawn
- People coming outside only to smoke
- Expensive security and surveillance gear
- Access denied to the property or areas of the property to landlords, neighbours and other visitors
- Anxious or paranoid people at the property
If you discover any of the above signs that methamphetamine production appears to be in progress, you should take the following actions:
- Leave the area immediately
- Contact NZ Police
- Notify the Rented Licensor
- Do not attempt to stop the chemical reaction
- Do not turn any electrical devices on or off such as lights or fans. The simple act of turning on an electrical switch may cause an explosion.
- Do not shut off the water supply to the house or the chemical reaction
- Do not smoke in or near a clandestine laboratory
- Do not use tools, radios, cell phones, torches or devices that produce sparks or friction
- Do not re-enter the premises
5. Safe Levels of Methamphetamine
The NZS 8510:2017 standard states that the “maximum acceptable level” of methamphetamine in an affected property is 1.5 µg/100 cm2.
6. Testing for Methamphetamine
It is best practice for a Methamphetamine test to be completed prior to a tenant moving into the property. As a responsible Property Management company we believe it is our job to ensure owners of properties under our management are provided with the information required to make an informed decision on why this should be done. The main reasons are that they will be liable for refunding rent, compensation for damaged goods and possibly exemplary damages should contamination be found later.
As per the Rented Management Agreement we strongly recommend to all owners that a pre-tenancy methamphetamine test is conducted prior to any tenancy starting. This ensures that the property has a baseline reading that can be compared back to when a future test is conducted.
Without this baseline test should contamination arise in the future there is no way to determine when it took place and which tenants were responsible. Owners need to be clear that no damages can be reclaimed from tenants without the baseline test being conducted.
Meth Clause contained in Rented’s Management Agreement
Methamphetamine – It is recommended that a pre-tenancy methamphetamine test is conducted to insure the property is free of contamination. This test may also be used to assign liability if contamination is found in the future.
Landlords should incorporate Meth testing into their risk management policy when owning a rental, however ultimately, it’s the Landlords decision whether they go ahead with the testing.
As part of Rented’s Meth risk mitigation policy we now require a Disclaimer document to be signed by owners prior to a new tenancy starting. This ensures that your Property Manager has communicated the risk of Methamphetamine contamination and the importance of a baseline test. Having a baseline test done will mean costs are recoverable from Tenancy Tribunal and prevents any potential penalty for exemplary damage.
Checks During a Tenancy
All Rented Tenancy Agreements contain a clause allowing for Methamphetamine checks during the tenancy. Whether an owner would want to complete a check during a tenancy would come down to having had the baseline Meth test carried out prior to the start of the tenancy as mentioned in the section above.
If an owner has carried out the baseline check and they suspect Meth use at the property then 48 hours’ notice is required to gain entry to conduct a Meth test.
Meth Clause contained in Rented’s Tenancy Agreement
Methamphetamine testing – The tenant agrees that the Landlord may during the tenancy, with or without the assistance of an expert conduct a test for the presence of methamphetamine as part of a property inspection after giving the tenant the correct notice for a routine inspection.
If an owner instructs their Property Manager to conduct a Meth test during a tenancy when there is no initial test they will need to sign a disclaimer form for an Intermediate Meth test. Testing at this point can have costly and unexpected outcomes.
The outcome is that far from helping the situation it might mean that the tenants sue the Landlord for housing them in a property that was contaminated to some degree with Methamphetamine.
Checks at the end of a Tenancy
At the end of each Tenancy a Meth test should be carried out to establish if any contamination took place during the current tenant’s occupancy.
7. Policy for Dealing with Sitting Tenants in Contaminated Properties
When you receive a positive test for Meth there are several factors that contribute to the best course of action. The main factors are;
- Can you prove who caused the contamination to the property?
- Is the property habitable or uninhabitable?
Rented has internal procedures to deal with Methamphetamine contamination. You will be taken through these should an issue arise at a property you own.
Insurers have seen a significant rise in claims. Insurance council was part of the committee that came up with the new standards. Although there is currently no requirement to have homes tested between tenancies. However, a Tenancy Tribunal adjudicator recently stated, “Any landlord who, in 2015 or 2016, rents out his or her premises without having it tested for methamphetamine contamination at the commencement of the tenancy is taking on a large risk in a number of respects.” He then went on to rule a landlord pay $7,500 to a tenant.
The positive for owners is that there is now clarity around the safe levels of contamination. Costs should also be reduced should contamination occur with an area by area approach being adopted to any clean-up. The tenants will more often now be able to stay in their own homes while the clean-up takes place.
Rented works with Rothbury Insurance brokers. They offer a comprehensive AMP policy and an add-on Methamphetamine cover that extends the policy cover to $180k. This is the only policy of its type currently in NZ. Click here to see more information.
Rented’s Tenancy Agreement allows for Meth testing to be carried out at the same time as a Routine Inspection. If the test is to be conducted outside of this, notice needs to be served to the tenant no sooner than 48hours or more than 14 days in advance.
The results of any test must be provided to the tenant and this must happen within 7 days.
10. Type of test conducted and standards to meet
This will take the form of a screening test conducted by an appropriately qualified person/organisation. If a positive reading is reported then a detailed assessment must be requested and undertaken by the same qualified person/organisation to identify the severity of contamination.
Note DIY kits are unlikely to comply with the new regulations. These types of tests only give a black or white answer and are not likely to stand up at a Tenancy Tribunal hearing.
There are three main types of tests.
Field Composite Screening
Individual samples are collected from separate locations within a property and consolidated into one sample for lab analysis. If the result indicates a potential maximum in which any one area may exceed the NZS 8510:2017 Standard of 1.5μg/100cm2 then a technician will need to return to the property for a Detailed Assessment. Field Composite tests are an economical way to determine the presence of meth residue within a confined structure.
Lab Composite Screening
Individual samples are collected from separate locations within a property. The lab will extract these samples individually in the first instance, but will also combine equal portions of each to form a new lab composite sample. The composite sample is then analysed to provide a result that represents an average contamination level throughout the property. Should this result exceed the NZS 8510:2017 Standard of 1.5μg/100cm2, a request can be made for the lab to analyse the individual samples without the need of a technician returning to the property for re-sampling.
Individual samples are collected from separate locations within a property and analysed by the lab. The results will determine the extent of meth contamination for each location sampled. A Detailed Assessment is certainly not the cheapest test however, is necessary should a positive result be returned following screening or if meth contamination is suspected or known to exist.
** All tests carried out on properties managed by Rented are analysed by IANZ accredited laboratories
Rented recommends using the multi wipe field composite test in the first instance in cases where Methamphetamine contamination is not suspected. This provides a baseline to test against in the future.
Only rooms contaminated need to be concealed and cleaned. Only rooms affected will be considered for rent abatement.
11. Companies we work with
Auckland Procare Services
Taranaki Meth Solutions
Nelson Meth Screen
Christchurch Meth Solutions
Dunedin Meth Solutions