P contamination crisis: Push for register of 'poisoning' tenants

By Kristin Edge -
A crew from Building Remediation Services clear a house contaminated with P. Photo / Dean Purcell
A crew from Building Remediation Services clear a house contaminated with P. Photo / Dean Purcell

A Northland property manager has called for a public register naming tenants who contaminate rental properties with methamphetamine.

Judy Morgan, managing director of Property Management and Rentals in Northland, said there should be tighter controls around testing standards for P in properties to stop the "poisoning" of homes.

Ms Morgan said the drug had become the new "Leaky Building Catastrophe". In a letter to Parliament, Ms Morgan expressed concern over the lack of standards for those testing houses for P contamination.

"As the custodian of investors' properties, along with present and future retirees' investment properties, it is my duty of care to vet and let these homes to our citizens. It is also my duty to ensure that the people who rent these properties, are living in a safe and sanitary dwelling, free of meth contamination," Ms Morgan said.

For that to happen a code of regulation for those doing the testing for methamphetamine was needed, with clear parameters. The Ministry of Health only offers guidelines, not standards. She said it was not fair to threaten to impose fines on owners based on guidelines that were of an advisory nature only.

"The fact there is no standardised testing regime is the greatest problem we face, because the method used by one testing agency can differ from another."

Testing between tenants is not mandatory but should become a requirement for both rentals and properties for sale, Ms Morgan said.

"What's occurring is an ever-increasing number of addicts are moving from property to property, all over NZ, 'poisoning' our homes, with absolutely no penalty for their wanton vandalism. There should be a public register naming any tenants who have vacated their rental property in a contaminated state."

Housing New Zealand spent $231,361 decontaminating 13 Northland houses infected by methamphetamine over the past three years, but that cost would rise now that HNZ would start testing its houses each time there was a change in tenant.

MethSolutions director Miles Stratford, a decontamination contractor, said of 167 private properties it tested in Northland last year, 94 had traces of methamphetamine - or 56 per cent. Whangarei had the highest rate of positive results in the country.

A woman who owned and managed a portfolio of nine properties in Northland had one property contaminated with methamphetamine by tenants. She did not want to be named but said it had so far cost $14,000 to have the house cleaned and estimated the final bill would be up to $35,000.

She warned landlords to make sure they had properties tested in between tenants, preferably on the last day they moved out, to see if methamphetamine had been consumed. If tenants could prove they had moved in and the house was contaminated they could take their concerns to the Tenancy Tribunal.

"Meth Minders," which detect the use of methamphetamine, have been fitted to all the houses she manages. If meth is detected it alerts a monitoring service in Auckland, which contacts police.

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