Property Management

Methamphetamine: Landlords call for more clarity

Caught between a rock and hard place is how many property managers feel when it comes to dealing with methamphetamine and rental properties.

Thursday, September 30th 2021

These feelings were made loud and clear in a REINZ survey of property managers.

They want one fixed methamphetamine standard that is ruled on consistently and a set of rules that relate specifically to residential tenancies to provide clarity to both landlords and property managers.

The industry is still waiting on a full review of methamphetamine safety levels within the meth-testing standard to be undertaken.

REINZ doesn’t know whether this will result in the regulations being officially changed. Many property managers still continue to operate in line with NZS 8510.

The Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2019 allows for regulations to be developed to set out a maximum acceptable level for meth contamination, processes for testing and decontamination of rental properties.

Under the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 (RTA), landlords must provide the premises in a reasonably clean condition ensuring they comply with health and safety.

Tenants must not use the rental property for an unlawful purpose – this includes smoking or manufacturing meth.

If landlords rent out contaminated properties, they may be breaching their obligations under the RTA. They may also be breaching other legislation such as the Building Act 2004 and the Health Act 1956.

Confusing standards

Whilst not law, the methamphetamine testing and remediation standard NZS 8510 is considered best practice at 1.5µg/100cm².

The standard was developed by a standards development committee consisting of various representatives from central government such as the Health and Environment Ministries and Housing New Zealand.

However, most Tenancy Tribunal rulings now use the Gluckman Report as their yardstick and refer to methamphetamine levels below 15µg/100cm² as being unlikely to give rise to any adverse health effects.

The difficulty arises where a property has been tested before a tenancy starts with clear meth readings, then post tenancy it is tested and records meth readings up to 14µg/100cm².

Based on how the Tenancy Tribunal considers contamination levels, it will be unlikely the property landlord will be able to recoup any decontamination costs from the tenants.

In a REINZ survey the majority of members say their Tenancy Tribunal decisions in regard to contamination were based on the Gluckman Report. Less than 4.3% of decisions referred to NZS: 8510.

Unfortunately, this is resulting in owners only being able to recoup decontamination costs for areas with readings above 15ug/100cm².

The flow on effect being many landlords now simply don’t test, are frustrated and don’t understand the existing system.

This is a real concern for incoming tenants/property managers who may be unaware of existing positive readings.

Additionally, if a landlord ends up in a situation where their property has had meth contamination, they will have a difficult time trying to prove who caused this if a pre-tenancy meth test has not been undertaken.

Is it fair?

The question landlords are now asking, is whether it’s fair that an owner wanting to ensure they keep their home meth free will need to undertake remedial work that may or may not be covered by their insurance policy?

Each insurance company is taking its own approach in regard to methamphetamine.

Landlords and property managers need to look at individual policy wording as approaches range from some based on the Gluckman Report, to the New Zealand Standard or even some other level as insurers determine when damage has occurred.

Careless damage

Generally, if the tribunal feels it has sufficient evidence on the balance of probability that the tenants caused the contamination, this will be awarded to the landlord (treated like careless damage), and the same applies with most retesting costs.

Tenants who smoke, sell or manufacture meth in a rental property are using the property for an unlawful purpose.

The fines associated with this breach have now increased up to $1,800.

Comments

No comments yet

Heartland Bank - Online 1.85
HSBC Premier 2.19
Kainga Ora - First Home Buyer Special 2.25
HSBC Special 2.25
SBS Bank Special 2.55
China Construction Bank Special 2.65
Kainga Ora 2.88
ICBC 2.89
TSB Special 2.94
First Credit Union Special 2.95
Resimac 2.98
Heartland Bank - Online 2.35
HSBC Premier 2.45
China Construction Bank Special 2.65
Resimac 2.79
SBS Bank Special 2.95
Select Home Loans 2.99
Nelson Building Society 3.24
Kainga Ora 3.28
ICBC 3.29
TSB Special 3.40
First Credit Union Special 3.45
China Construction Bank Special 2.99
HSBC Premier 3.19
Select Home Loans 3.54
Resimac 3.54
TSB Special 3.94
SBS Bank Special 3.95
ICBC 4.09
Kainga Ora 4.22
Bluestone 4.29
SBS Bank 4.45
The Co-operative Bank - Owner Occ 4.49
ANZ Blueprint to Build 1.68
ASB Back My Build 2.04
Heartland Bank - Online 2.25
Resimac 3.39
Select Home Loans 3.49
Bluestone 3.74
Kiwibank Special 3.75
Kiwibank 4.00
Kiwibank - Offset 4.00
ICBC 4.15
Kainga Ora 4.43

More Stories

House price growth on the downward slide

Thursday, October 28th 2021

House price growth on the downward slide

House price growth has dropped from a quarterly rate of 8.1% in April to 4.8% by September.

Tribunal: Anti-social behaviour – tenancy terminated

Monday, October 25th 2021

Tribunal: Anti-social behaviour – tenancy terminated

A tenant who cut the Sky cable, removed fuses from the fuse box and put them back incorrectly, and tagged items on the premises has had his periodic tenancy terminated.

Investor juggernaut slowly grinding down

Friday, October 22nd 2021

Investor juggernaut slowly grinding down

Property buying by mortgaged investors is back down to the levels just before the loan-to-value restrictions were lifted in the second quarter last year, which sparked investor demand back into life.

FOMO haunts property buyers

Wednesday, October 20th 2021

FOMO haunts property buyers

Fear of missing out (FOMO) is rising in the residential property market. Sally Lindsay reviews the figures from Tony Alexander and REINZ.