(updated on Wednesday, September 02nd 2020)
I have a property that was baseline meth tested 10 days after my old tenants vacated and six days before the new tenants took over the tenancy. During the 16-day period between tenants only my property manager had access to the property. Now the "new tenants" have moved out and the property has failed a meth test. Am I able to hold my "new tenants" liable in this situation?
Our Experts Answer:
Tenants who smoke, sell or manufacture meth in a rental property are using the property for an unlawful purpose and are in breach of the Residential Tenancies Act. This also breaches a tenant’s obligation not to intentionally or carelessly damage the premise.
A landlord will need to apply to the Tenancy Tribunal if looking to hold tenants liable for contamination of a premise. Before deciding to take a meth-related claim to the Tribunal, a landlord would need to be able to provide clear evidence that satisfies the Tribunal that the premises are contaminated.
The landlord will also need to provide clear evidence that the contamination was caused by the tenant and that the premises were not contaminated before the tenancy started. This could include the baseline test before the tenancy started and the test results at the end of the tenancy.
It is also recommended for a landlord to seek independent legal advice and speak to their insurance company about additional options.
For more information on meth contamination and rental properties, visit https://www.tenancy.govt.nz/starting-a-tenancy/renting-affected-properties/renting-a-property-affected-by-methamphetamine-p/.
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