How private landlords, agents & home buyers will be affected by Meth U-turn

The government’s U-turn on the safety of Meth contaminated houses has conveniently freed up approximately 240 state houses during a rental home shortage. The U-turn was enabled by the sudden appearance of a report that states that there is no evidence of risk even though the absence of evidence is not evidence of safety. Anecdotal evidence like our guest post this week suggests that the science is far from settled on the safety of even low levels of meth contamination in a home.

One of the most shocking things to emerge from the government’s convenient U-turn is that there is one rule for the government as the landlord of state houses but there is another for private landlords.

The government no longer has to follow the original Meth safety guidelines (put there to protect tenants from harm) but private landlords still do.

Private landlords have been held to a higher standard than the government. Quote:

[…] Outdated meth contamination levels will continue to hamper private and municipal landlords for the foreseeable future.

Vacant state houses will be made available in a matter of weeks, but private homeowners with meth blemishes on their LIM reports will have to wait to have their records cleared.

Two hundred Housing New Zealand homes, including seven in the Waikato, will be put back in the letting pool […] Standards NZ manager Carmen Mak said the national standard on methamphetamine testing and remediation is voluntary.

Private landlords, however, must adhere to that national standard which, officially, has not changed. End of quote.

Since their U-turn there has been talk of compensation but surprisingly only with regards to state tenants who were removed for their own safety or because they were the ones who contaminated the home with Meth in the first place.

Landlords who followed government guidelines will not be offered any compensation at all. Quote:

The Prime Minister has confirmed there will be no compensation for people who spent thousands of dollars unnecessarily clearing their properties of meth residue.

[…] Jacinda Ardern told The AM Show there was no obligation for private landlords to get the testing done.[…]  there was never any mandatory requirement for anyone to undertake any of that activity.”End of quote.

Despite Ardern saying that the landlords were under no obligation to test their rental properties for  Meth and to clean them if they were contaminated on the government tenancy website it clearly states that both landlords and tenants should check for any signs of ‘P’ at the property before they rent a property.

The only conclusive way to confirm Meth contamination is to test for it. Once it is found the private landlord according to the government tenancy website has an obligation to clean the property. Quote:

Landlords must provide a clean property
If landlords rent out a property that is contaminated by ‘P’, they are breaching their obligations under the Residential Tenancies Act 1986, as well as other legislation such as the Building Act and the Health Act. End of quote.

Another group affected by the government’s U-turn on Meth contamination are Real estate agents who no longer have to disclose P contamination to buyers! The new Methamphetamine Disclosure guidelines from the Real Estate Authority are as follows:

A property is considered to have a defect that must be disclosed to buyers if contamination is at or above 15 micrograms per 100cm2 (previously it was 1.5 micrograms per 100cm2).

You do not have to disclose test results below 15 micrograms per 100cm2 unless specifically asked by a prospective buyer or where a prospective buyer has clearly shown an interest in methamphetamine contamination (see Rule 6.4 of the Professional Conduct and Client Care Rules (2012) – must not withhold information that should by law or in fairness be provided to a customer).

Disclosure is NOT required if the property has been successfully remediated back to below 15 micrograms per 100cm2 in a property where methamphetamine has only been used, or to below 1.5 micrograms per 100cm2 where methamphetamine production was identified.

As with any disclosure, you must discuss the issue with your vendor before making any disclosures (Rule 10.7).


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