The ongoing effects of the 0.5 meth standard

Published: Thu 20 Sep 2018 03:20 PM
The ongoing effects of the 0.5 meth standard
The NZ Property Investors’ Federation (NZPIF) has always been opposed to the interpretation of guidelines around methamphetamine, so we were extremely pleased when the Minister of Housing, Phil Twyford, undertook a review of the situation.
“There is no doubt that how Ministry of Health guidelines were interpreted by councils and Government departments meant that landlords, including Housing NZ, were required to take action against meth “contamination”, says Andrew King, NZPIF Executive Officer. “We were told that we were irresponsible and uncaring if we didn’t and the cost to our industry has been enormous.”
However, when we have previously spoken up about the absurdity of checking and remediating rental properties for extremely low levels of meth, we were accused of only being interested in saving money and unconcerned about the welfare of our tenants.
Adjudicators at the Tenancy Tribunal were making awards against landlords for providing a rental property in an unclean state if meth levels were found above 0.5 micrograms and can still do so. One adjudicator stated that any level of meth, even levels below 0.5micrograms, meant that the landlord had provided the property in an unclean state.
In 2014, a group calling itself the Auckland Regional Methamphetamine Working Group called for a rental property warrant of fitness which included compulsory meth testing.
Councils around New Zealand were so concerned about meth contamination that they had meth levels over 0.5 micrograms recorded permanently on the properties LIM report.
Because of all this, rental property owners have been forced to spend millions of dollars on testing for meth and many unlucky souls spent tens of thousands cleaning their properties when microscopic levels of meth were discovered.
Government is now saying that rental property owners were never required to do this and therefore they are not due compensation. However, State House tenants who were smoking meth in their homes, or whose guests were doing so, are to receive compensation.
There is no way that people would spend such enormous amounts of money if they were not required to. To say that landlords misused the guidelines and standards is absurd.
If it is fair and reasonable to compensate state house tenants for the way meth guidelines were implemented in New Zealand then it is fair and reasonable that private rental property owners, who are tens of thousands of dollars out of pocket, should also be compensated.
The meth standard remains at 0.5 micrograms and landlords are still at risk of the Tenancy Tribunal declaring that they have provided their rental in an unclean state if meth is found in their property above this level. Urgent action is needed to remedy this as soon as possible.

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