Three Housing New Zealand rental properties in Greymouth are empty because of methamphetamine contamination.

The State housing owner yesterday confirmed the properties are all at Arnott Heights -- a small subdivision south-west of the township.

Meanwhile, West Coast police say a real "upswing" in methamphetamine or P-related incidents has been noted across the region in the past 18 months.

Housing NZ said it has identified four properties on the West Coast where methamphetamine had been consumed, requiring it to decontaminate those houses.


"Currently, three of those properties are in Arnott Heights and are vacant because of methamphetamine-related reasons," a HNZ spokesman said. "Two of these houses are undergoing testing and-or decontamination, while we are waiting for final testing results on the third to determine what actions are needed there."

Poisonous fumes from smoking the drug are absorbed into walls, floors and ceilings, often requiring complete stripping.

Housing NZ said it currently had 33 vacant properties on the West Coast.

"Of these, 24 are either being listed for sale or prepared for sale, six will be re-let to tenants and the other three are those properties currently either being tested or decontaminated for methamphetamine," the spokesman said.

Contamination from P was an issue for HNZ as it prevented "the vulnerable" from being housed quickly as cleaning and remediation could take up to three months in serious situations.

The company maintained "a zero tolerance approach" to the use or manufacture of P, or any other illegal activity, and would evict tenants where it was found.

"We communicate this very clearly to all our tenants, and will pursue tenants for costs associated with property damage caused through recreational drug use or the manufacture of drugs."

As a social landlord and an employer, the well-being of staff, tenants and their neighbours was the highest priority.

"We have robust health and safety controls in place for situations when methamphetamine contamination is suspected at one of our properties."

P consumption was not only detrimental to individual tenants but a risk to their families, and Housing NZ had called in other agencies such as Child, Youth and Family to protect children exposed to meth contamination in State houses.

West Coast police area commander Inspector John Canning said meth use on the West Coast was "a real issue" with the amount of police time on associated criminal activity ever-increasing.

"There has been an upswing of methamphetmine use on the West Coast in the past 18 months. It's manifesting itself in several ways," Mr Canning said.

Primarily it was being seen in family violence and other incidents of violence dealt with by police.

"We are concerned about it and trying to cope with it."

Mr Canning said West Coast police had put in strategies to deal with P. While the drug tended to have more of a public profile in the larger towns, the problem was Coastwide.

Arnott Heights in Greymouth was not the only suburb in the town to be affected by it, he said, although he did not identify other problem areas.