Calls continue for greater clarity on meth testing

Three years on from the ‘Gluckman Report’, which recommended meth contamination levels be 10 times higher than the current government standards, there still has been no clarity safe levels.

  • 4 June, 2021
  • PROPERTY MANAGEMENT, RESIDENTIAL

In 2018, Sir Peter Gluckman, then the Prime Minister’s chief science adviser, produced a report which recommended that methamphetamine contamination level should be 15.0 µg/100 cm2, in stead of the current Ministry of Health standards of 1.5 µg/100 cm2 level.

By the national standard, which remains in force, properties with more than 1.5 micrograms per square metre of meth are classified as contaminated, without separating whether the meth had been smoked or manufactured.

The Gluckman Report recommended that where meth had only been consumed, contamination would have to reach 15 micrograms per square metre before decontamination would be required.

After the report came out, it prompted a change in public perception about methamphetamine contamination, and it led to first Kainga Ora and then the Tenancy Tribunal to adopt Gluckman’s recommended standards.

Tenancy Services note on its website that new regulations were due to be developed as part of the Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2019 to set out: the maximum acceptable level for meth contamination; the process for testing; and the decontamination of rental properties. However, this is work that has not been completed, causing significant issues across the industry.

With the disjointed standards, the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) continues to call for greater clarification from the Government on acceptable meth testing levels for properties.

Since the Gluckman Report was published, the REA advised that the high level or above is considered a property defect that must be disclosed to potential buyers, REINZ acting chief executive Wendy Alexander said.

“However, if a property tests positive for meth, but contamination is below 15.0 µg/100 cm2, real estate agents do not need to proactively disclose this unless they are specifically asked by a potential purchaser whether there are any other reports or meth tests available, or where the prospective buyer is clearly concerned about meth contamination; even if the property’s contamination levels were initially over the Gluckman threshold and have been remediated to be below the threshold,” she said.

The disjoint in advice also creates issues for property managers and landlords around health and safety and what is deemed ‘reasonably tidy’.

“Technically a property can be rented out to tenants at 14 µg/100cm2 but under WorkSafe guidelines property managers are unable to enter the property to carry out quarterly inspections and tradespeople need to be notified of the level to carry out any work in protective clothing,” Alexander said.

“Additionally, there are effectively two different rates – one for outgoing tenants and one for ingoing tenants.

“Unsurprisingly, owners are extremely frustrated with the situation and don’t know where they stand. Some owners have given up entirely and are no longer meth testing properties between a change of tenants, further compounding the problem. One landlord we spoke to succinctly summed up the situation as ‘impossible’.”

REINZ hopes the Government will address this issue sooner, rather than later, since it was meant to be resolved in 2019, Alexander said.

LJ Hooker NZ

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