May 19 2014
Methamphetamine (commonly known as ‘P’ or ‘meth’) contamination is an increasing problem in New Zealand properties. The by-products of P-use and manufacture are extremely dangerous. P-labs are moved around to avoid detection and are often found in isolated locations. Farm houses and rental properties are attractive targets. It’s not just the P-labs that cause contamination; using P in the house also contaminates the entire house. Decontamination is strictly a job for the professionals.
Under the Residential Tenancies Act 1986, a landlord must ensure that a tenanted property has been decontaminated and is safe to live in. A landlord is not obliged, however, to disclose to tenants that the house has previously been used for the manufacturer of P or has been contaminated by P. If asked, however, a landlord must answer any contamination queries truthfully.
When selling, real estate agents must disclose outstanding statutory notices in respect of property. If the standard Agreement for Sale and Purchase is used, the vendor must also disclose these notices. If the real estate agent or the vendor knowingly exposes the public to danger, for example, by conducting an open home at the property, they could be criminally liable. The real estate agent could also be guilty of unsatisfactory conduct under the Real Estate Agents Act 2008.
Owners of rental properties should be vigilant and proactive when it comes to P detection. They should carefully screen prospective tenants, undertake regular inspections and consider installing an alarm system to detect the manufacture of P at the property.