Meth threat still no.1 fear for landlords

Wednesday 9 November 2016

Meth contamination tops a new list of landlords’ concerns – and it is uncertainty which is driving their fears as they await completion of the new testing and remediation standard.

By Miriam Bell

Controversy over Housing New Zealand’s application of the Ministry of Health’s existing guidelines on risky meth levels has led to increased scrutiny of the unregulated meth testing industry of late.

There is growing acknowledgement that some industry participants have been over-zealous in their approach to testing, remediation and the related costs.

But for landlords, until much anticipated new guidelines are in place, uncertainty still reigns as to how to correctly deal with a meth contamination issue.

It is no surprise then that new research from Crockers has found that meth contamination remains the number one concern for property investors.

Of those surveyed, 36% cited meth contamination as the biggest risk facing investors over the next six months – ahead of higher interest rates and falling property prices.

This finding is consistent with research conducted by Crockers earlier this year which found that 71% of investors would ask for a meth test on any new property they were purchasing

The Crockers research comes hot on the heels of ANZ’s recent Residential Property Investment Survey, which showed that 38% of investors see meth contamination as their biggest worry.

NZ Property Investors Federation executive officer Andrew King confirmed that the issue continues to be a source of huge anxiety for those with rental properties.

He said the problem of meth contamination is like the threat of a grenade for landlords who want to protect their investments.

“While a meth contamination situation won’t affect many landlords overall, for those it does hit it can mean financial disaster – and the threat of it is always there.

“It is for this reason that lots of people are pushing that landlords should be doing testing before and after tenancies, as well as pre-purchase, and that can be a good safety net.”

The new meth testing and remediation standard should make a big difference as it will clarify current areas of confusion, he said.

“Likewise, the Ministry of Health’s proposed new guidelines, which recommend different levels of assessment for properties where meth has been used and properties where it has been manufactured, are helpful.”

However, until the new standard has been adopted, there is still a high degree of confusion about what exactly testing results mean and how they need to be applied.

King, who is on the committee which is developing the new standard, said the goal is to get the draft standard out for public consultation in November.

“It’s a huge undertaking though. The committee has already met for three extra days. But the draft is tracking in a way which looks like it will be out this month.”

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