If you are providing a home for someone, it’s important that the house be safe for occupation. What are your legal obligations around meth or asbestos contamination?
Rental Properties in NZ and Methamphetamine Use
When renting out a property, it’s expected that it is clean and habitable. In return, your tenants must treat your property respectfully, and not use it for any unlawful purpose. This includes not manufacturing or consuming methamphetamines.
However, not all tenants are law-abiding. If your previous tenants smoked or cooked meth in the home, and you are knowingly renting out a contaminated property, you could be breaching your obligations under the Residential Tenancies Act 1986, the Health Act 1956, and the Building Act 2004.
As a result, it is up to you to maintain a property that is free from meth contamination. This includes:
- Checking on your property during the tenancy to watch for any signs that the house is being used as a drug lab
- Testing between tenancies
- Decontamination to acceptable levels by NZ law if contamination occurs.
Is your property being used as a meth lab?
There are a few signs that your property could be a methamphetamine lab. While you cannot enter the property without the tenant’s agreement, you can look for external signs or ask the neighbours to keep an eye on the place. Things like a strong chemical smell, an unkempt property, and unusual patterns of visitors are all possible signs.
If you do think your house is being used as a meth lab, you can test for contamination. However, you will need to provide notice to the tenants before entering the property. You can also add clauses to the tenancy agreement around meth testing, if these clauses are in line with the Residential Tenancies Act.
If your property is being used as a meth lab, inform the police. You can also take your tenants to the Tenancy Tribunal to try and remove them from the property, or recoup costs.
Maintaining a legal level of meth contamination
While the Residential Tenancies Act does not specifically state an appropriate level of contamination, the NZ science advisor suggests exposure to meth at levels below 15 µg/100 cm2 are safe.
Anything tested above this will need some level of decontamination. Contact the team at TechClean in Wellington, Christchurch, Nelson or Marlborough for meth testing and advice on remediation. It’s likely that even if there is some contamination, the entire house won’t need substantial work. TechClean test room-by-room and will remediate based on contamination levels. This may mean a bedroom or hallway only needs washing down, but a highly contaminated kitchen or laundry require all wall linings, air conditioning units, plumbing and furnishings be replaced.
Protecting your asset from meth contamination with insurance
In NZ, landlords can get insurance to help offset costs from meth remediation and decontamination. Speak to your insurer if you don’t currently have cover. While this cover will result in higher premiums, it could save substantial costs in the long term.
Rental properties in NZ and asbestos contamination
In 2016, new asbestos regulations in the Health and Safety at Work (Asbestos) Regulations act meant that any residential rental properties that are undergoing repair or maintenance work must have an asbestos management plan in place. Breaching the law could mean substantial fines. There are three steps to remaining compliant with the law:
- Landlords must determine if the property has asbestos on it, how much, where it’s located, and the condition it’s in.
- Landlords must ensure that there is no risk to tenants and other property users from friable asbestos.
- Landlords must have an asbestos management plan in place. This must be current, adapt to reflect any circumstances that have changed, and be available to any tradespeople who carry out work on the property.
Even if the asbestos is stable, secure, poses no risk, and there are no plans to remove it, there must be a management plan in place.
How to remove asbestos from a rental property
The best advice is to get a professional in for an initial quote and testing. A survey will need to be carried out to identify the type and quantity of asbestos on site. Any area of asbestos over 10m2 must be removed by someone with an appropriate class A or B licence.
While most asbestos is safe as long as it’s not moved or disturbed, having a management plan in place is a legal requirement. Even if there is no intention to remove the asbestos or carry out renovations, the plan must be written and available to anyone who needs it.
At TechClean, we can carry out an assessment and advise landlords on the best practice to manage their asbestos situation. In Nelson, Marlborough, Wellington and Christchurch, we have trained and qualified professional teams that can carry out removal for you if needed.