Without a voice

Thursday 9 June 2016

Landlords will not be specifically represented on the committee that will develop a meth-testing standard – and that is a worry for rental property owners.

By Miriam Bell

Standards NZ has announced that a committee has been appointed to develop a testing and remediation standard for properties contaminated by the manufacture or use of meth.

It comes in the wake of rising public panic about meth contaminated properties – with increasing calls for mandatory testing between tenancies and/or when properties are bought and sold.

This has led to growing concern among landlords about inconsistent test results, uncertainty about what different levels of meth mean if detected and, accordingly, the degree of remediation necessary in different situations.

The new standard is intended to provide guidance on methodologies and procedures to ensure a consistent and effective approach to the testing and remediation of meth-affected properties and their contents.

However, of the 18 committee members, over half hail from the meth testing and remediation sector itself.

There is no-one on the committee who will be specifically representing the interests of private landlords.

Several landlords.co.nz readers have expressed concern over this, with one suggesting that landlords could be vulnerable on this issue as a result.

She said standards sound like a good idea but, without a strong voice on the committee, how will landlords get a reliable, cost-effective test and clean-up option?

“The more likely option is an expensive, fear-based agenda if those who stand to gain are the drivers.”

NZ Property Investors Federation executive officer Andrew King said he was very upset the NZPIF was not included in the committee.

He said the NZPIF had applied to be part of the committee as the issue of meth contamination is one causing a lot of anxiety and concern for landlords.

“Private landlords play a big part in the rental property sector and it is just wrong that they won’t be represented on the committee.”

Prompted by members concerns over the issue, the NZPIF is already having discussions with MBIE and will also be discussing it with the Principal Tenancy Tribunal Adjudicator.

King said the issue of meth needs to be handled so that tenants are protected but the risks to landlords are also mitigated.

But Standards NZ principal advisor Bruce Taylor said private landlords would still be able to have a say on the standard.

When selecting standards committees, it was always difficult to get representation from every affected sector and still have a manageable committee, he said.

They received 34 nominations for representation on the committee and had to narrow it down to the 18 selected, which was in itself a large committee.

“For those who submitted nominations which were unsuccessful in terms of being on the committee, we can still ask them to be part of a reference group for bouncing ideas off and the like.

“Also, anyone affected by the issue will be able to comment on the draft standard, put together by the committee, during a two month consultation period.

“So there will be an opportunity for landlords to have input on the standard.”

The committee will hold its first meeting on June 29 and the draft of the standard will be released for public comment later this year.

The final standard will be published between the end of January and June 2017 - depending on the type and degree of comment received from the public consultation.

Comments from our readers

On 10 June 2016 at 5:18 pm Property Leader said:
At least they are getting onto the matter. Lets hope the standards are scientifically robust and not based on paranoid fears. As well as set levels of meth per sq cm they need to detail acceptable cleaning solutions. The other fear I have is the tenancy adjudicators need to be made to follow science not politics.

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