Property owners who have spent thousands of dollars on methamphetamine decontamination or remedial work will be "gutted" by the findings of a new Government-commissioned report released this week.
So says Simon Darmody, president of the Tauranga Property Investors Association.
Darmody said property owners who had sold at a discount because of meth would also be feeling "ripped off" following the report, which was produced by the Prime Minister's chief science adviser, Professor Sir Peter Gluckman.
Prof Gluckman found there was no evidence that third-hand exposure to methamphetamine smoking residue on household surfaces caused adverse health effects.
Darmody said the new findings would create more uncertainty for both tenants and property owners, "who will have to follow the current rules until they are officially changed".
"There have also been a number of businesses set up that have invested in employing staff, technology and training to work with the current guidelines that are now facing a very uncertain future."
Darmody said finding out your property has meth contamination was a stressful time for all parties involved.
"So it will be important to have clear scientific evidence to back up these new findings to give people comfort that they are living in a safe home and that this is not just a way of saving money for Housing New Zealand.
"From what I have been told the current levels are too low and this should see better outcomes but it will be important to still address the issue of increasing meth use in New Zealand."
Prof Gluckman's report, which was released on Tuesday, found that meth levels exceeding the current standard of 1.5mcg/100cm2 should not signal a health risk and exposure 10 times higher (15mcg/100cm2) would also be unlikely to have any adverse effects.
The report said, in most cases, remediation was needed only in homes that had been former clan labs producing the drugs and where meth had been heavily used.
Prof Gluckman said he could not see the point of testing, unless police or forensic staff suspected it had been a place of synthesis.
Housing New Zealand immediately adopted the new recommended meth testing standards and was working to release more than 240 homes back into the letting pool.
But Tauranga Rentals owner Dan Lusby said nothing would change for his company until the new recommended levels were made official and were adopted by the Tenancy Tribunal.
"If they make it official, we will certainly oblige ... until they change the standard, we have to go by that 1.5mcg/100cm2 because that's what the Tenancy Tribunal will go by."
Tauranga Rentals tests for methamphetamine before every tenant moves into a property and after they move out.
Lusby said his company had never found a house in Tauranga that had been used as a lab.
"The odd one we've had contaminated, the owners have spent $30,000-$50,000 decontaminating them."
He hoped a decision on the new standards would be made soon.
However, Lusby believed meth testing was still needed, and the standards should remain the same.
"Unless you test, you are not going to know if there is any contamination, whatever the level."
Minister of Housing and Urban Development Phil Twyford said he commissioned the Gluckman report because of the anxiety about meth contamination and the testing and remediation industry that had grown as a result.
"There has been a widely held perception that the presence of even low levels of meth residue in a house poses a health risk to occupants. As a result, remediation to eliminate contamination has been an extremely costly business for landlords and an upheaval for tenants being evicted at short notice."
Twyford said the new report, along with the 1.5mcg/100cm2 clean-up standard (NZS 8510: 2017), would contribute to any regulations that may be made under the Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill (No 2).
A spokesman for the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment said the Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill (No 2) was currently before Parliament.
"Minister of Housing and Urban Development Phil Twyford has announced this would be followed by a public consultation period later this year before methamphetamine decontamination levels for residential rental properties are regulated in law."
Melissa Poole, principal tenancy adjudicator at the Tenancy Tribunal, said tenancy adjudicators based their decisions on the law set out in the Residential Tenancies Act 1986.
The tribunal relied on the most relevant and current guidelines available for its assessment of methamphetamine contamination claims.
"Where the law and the scientific evidence in relation to methamphetamine contamination has evolved, the tribunal has responded by amending its approach and will continue to do so, whenever revised guidelines are released."