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Worried about P contamination? This is what you need to know

Rental Property Tenants

Property Brokers 25 Apr 2017

Man in hazard suit clearing meth-contaminated house.$5.5 million: up to the end of September 2017, that’s the total reported cost of testing and decontaminating meth-infested homes in the Housing New Zealand portfolio. No wonder, then, that the use and production of P in rental properties is a growing concern for local landlords.

Read more: Avoid risky tenants and maximise your rental portfolio

Almost nine in 10 landlords were worried about their tenants consuming meth and other drugs within their properties—and for good reason. It’s a safety hazard, a detriment to the local community and a serious threat to the performance of a property portfolio.

If you’re concerned about meth contamination in your rental properties, these are the facts and figures you need to know - and the guide to avoiding contamination by this deadly illegal substance.



Is my property at risk of meth contamination?


Firstly, some good news. AA Insurance tells us that you are far more likely to have to deal with accidental property damage than anything else—meth damage included. The Drug Foundation is also of the opinion that living in a meth-contaminated house is not as dangerous as people think.

The reality is that meth contamination is less common than you might think. In fact, as of May 2018, the Government's science advisor has debunked the threat of third-hand meth inhalation, and has recommended that the previous "safe" level could be increased to 10x higher.

It doesn't change the fact that tenants manufacturing the drug in your property can cost you thousands.

The problem with meth labs is that they can be located anywhere. An article from the NZ Drug Foundation highlights how they have been found in houses, garages, businesses and even vehicles. It’s not even limited to less affluent areas either, as the Auckland District Law Society describes.

They’ve been found in places ranging from rural New Zealand right through to high-value Auckland suburbs. Just because your property is out in the regions doesn’t mean it isn’t at risk of meth contamination.


Worries about meth contamination is one of the reasons why some rental property owners have turned to AirBnB instead. Find out if it's the right choice for you with our overview.



What are the signs of P contamination?


There are, however, a few warning signs that methamphetamines (or other illegal drugs) may be being used in your investment property. Kirk Hardy of the Drug Detection Agency reveals some of the warning signs to the New Zealand Herald.


They include:

  • More visitors than usual to the home,

  • Extensive CCTV or other security systems being installed,

  • Cash payments from your tenants,

  • Unusual volumes of waste like empty medicine packets, coffee filters and paint thinner cans.


Your property manager will likely be keeping an eye out for these telltale signs, as well as speaking with the neighbours if they are spotted. Locals can often tell you a great deal about the activities of your tenants.

You can also, of course, get a professional meth test. This is possibly the most accurate way to check for meth contamination, but is often used as a final check after multiple other signals (such as those above) have been identified.



What can I do to prevent meth contamination?


Your best defense against meth contamination is choosing the right tenants from the start. Speaking with their references extensively to find out their past history with landlords, as well as having a criminal background check are good starts, but it is also be beneficial to hire a property manager to get eyes on your investments as well as an expert eye on your tenants.

Meth has been a serious source of pain for New Zealanders and their landlords for more than a decade now, hurting us in both our wallets and in the hearts of our communities. You can protect yourself by working with the right professionals, and doing the right checks.

Your property managers are trained to spot the signs but if you do suspect meth contamination at one of your self-managed properties, speak to our property management team. We have a preferred meth testing provider who has been thoroughly vetted, has serviced our clients in the past and offers excellent value for money.


Stop worrying about getting the wrong tenants. Arm yourself with the knowledge you need with our free ebook below.