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Peter Lewis: Progress on The Methamphetamine Contamination Issue

Monday, March 19, 2018


After considerable discussion and input from a number of interested parties including the Property Investors Federation, the New Zealand Standard NZS 8510:2017 on the testing and decontamination of methamphetamine contaminated properties was released in August last year.

Most landlords want to provide properties that are safe and secure for their tenants, but are naturally also concerned about the financial impact of such contamination on their landlord-ing business. Therefore one of the aims of the NZPIF input into the Standard was to include a provision for residential landlords to carry out meth testing on their own properties and have the results of such test accepted as evidence by the Tenancy Tribunal.

The Standard allows for this, provided that the landlord has undergone an acceptable training program, carries out the tests in the presence of their tenant, and uses an approved test kit.

Since the Standard has been published there has been minimal progress in pursuing this option. There are three reasons for this:

Firstly, the Standard does not yet have legal status. In order to have any legislative teeth, the Standard must be legally enforceable. This will occur when the Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill No.2, which cites the Standard, has passed through parliament. In the interim, the Standard is a good practice guide only.

Secondly, no test kits have been approved as meeting the Standard. To be approved, the kit must be submitted to the Government-owned Institute of Environmental Science and Research. This organization charges for its services, and the price quoted by them to carry out the required tests on any kit submitted is a substantial five-figure sum. If a kit is approved, that approval will then only last for one year and then kit must then be retested at the same cost level each and every subsequent year to retain its approved status. This has been such a financial deterrent that no importer of any of the kits has so far been willing to undertake such a project.

Thirdly, given the difficulties of access to an approved test kit, no training provider has set up a suitable training program.

The NZ Property Investors Federation is continuing to work on solving the problems involved, but the major stumbling block remains the unrealistic and discouraging cost of test kit approval. Unapproved kits are available in the local market and can be used by residential landlords, but if you do so always be aware that the results you obtain are probably not going to be accepted as evidence by the Tenancy Tribunal and therefore should be backed up where necessary by a professional test.



Peter Lewis 

Peter is the Vice President of the Auckland Property Investors' Association and sits on the board of the New Zealand Property Investors' Federation. 






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