Meth 'Contamination' What Property Owners Need to Know
21 June 2018 Diane Wright – First National Progressive
You will all be aware of the Gluckman report now on Meth ‘Contamination” and that the industry across the board has been working to a guideline that has been set to low.
First National Progressive, your property managers, can certainly see the logic behind the proposed higher levels and hope they are established sooner rather than later.
Where does this leave us right now? It is a 2-sided approach really.
1. The landlords duty of care in the RTA 45 (1)The Landlord shall - (a) provide the premises in a reasonable state of cleanliness; and (b) provide and maintain the premises in a reasonable state of repair having regard to the age and character of the premises and the period during which the premises are likely to remain habitable and available for residential purposes (c) Comply with all requirements in respect of buildings, health, and safety under any enactments so far as they apply to the premises.
2. and - The present guideline of 1.5. The level of 1.5, right now, and until a new guideline is confirmed, is considered uninhabitable.
So, we need to know if the property is over 1.5. Therefore, we need to test. If it is 1.5 or over, then we still need to remediate.
The chances of a tenant getting sick at a low level is, according to the new report, non-existent. The problem however is this. If we do not work to the current guideline, a tenant is within their rights to ask Tribunal for their rent to be rebated to them because of the landlord providing an uninhabitable property for rent. There is potentially a furniture and belongings claim as well. Such claims may well be awarded by the tenancy tribunal.
(The precedence has been set)
If the property tests over 1.5 and under 15, and meth has been baked, then the property IS uninhabitable. Remediation is essential to protect future tenants wellbeing, to protect the owner from legal consequences, and to maintain capital value.
If the property tests over 1.5, even just a small bit, the need to remediate is to protect the landlord from potential legal consequences from the Tribunal. Insurance companies, to the time of writing this, were still honouring claims at the 1.5 level.
So what changes when the new guidelines come out? Do we still need to test for meth? Yes we do recommend it.
With a guideline of 15, we then have a 3rd leg to our approach
3. THE KEY POINT IS that there is a difference between a house that has had meth smoked in it and a house that has had meth baked in it. And there CAN be low levels in a bake house. Bake houses will make people sick.
To fulfil our obligations under the first part we need to know if the property has been used as a bake house or a smoke house. There is only one way to do that. Test.
The good news is that bake houses are by far fewer than smoke houses, so the need to remediate will be significantly less likely. However, we still NEED to KNOW if your property is deemed habitable.
I hope this helps clear things up. More will come from the government over the next 8 or 9 months we believe and until then, we suggest you talk to your insurance broker. Has anything changed for them? What requirements do they have, do you need to pass that information to us, your agents?
- It seems to be beyond contention that a level of 15 and over is likely to be a bake house and is uninhabitable.
- Anything over 1.5 and up to 15 smoked is debatable.
- 15 and over is uninhabitable whether baked or smoked.
- Tenancy Tribunal tends to side with tenant when there is doubt. We need to remove the doubt.
However: The choice to test or not is yours. It is our duty of care to inform you of possible consequences, and then you decide.