Taxpayers have forked out about $195,000 in a year to clean up P-contaminated state houses in Rotorua.

Figures obtained from Housing New Zealand and a major meth testing company show the number of P-tainted homes in Rotorua is growing.

Data from Housing New Zealand reveals from the year to June 30 there were 13 houses vacant from its portfolio of 647 because of meth contamination - up from 11 over the same timeframes in 2016.

Read more: Trust steps up on housing to help local families
Rotorua rents still rising amid property shortage


A spokesman said it was too early to calculate the cleanup bill but ''on average, the cost of testing, decontaminating and re-testing before a property was tenanted could4 be approximately $15,000''.

Staff were trained to identify any signs of potential methamphetamine use in its properties, he said.

"Reasons to suspect a property is contaminated include police reports, the tenant admitting drug use in the property, or complaints from neighbours."

Housing New Zealand also worked closely with a range of agencies including police and Oranga Tamariki.

"We rely on and are guided by information from these and other agencies when it comes to suspecting a property may be contaminated with methamphetamine."

In the financial year to date from July 1 testing had also been undertaken at 29 Bay of Plenty properties for suspected meth contamination.

Of those 29 properties, 93 per cent returned positive results for traces of meth and 55 per cent returned results above the new standards which means they need to be decontaminated, he said.

Meth Solutions business relationship manager Debra Young said it had tested 425 properties for meth from October 2016 to September this year in Rotorua and Whakatane.

Just over half, or 54 per cent, tested positive in Rotorua and 38 per cent in Whakatane and positive results were up from a year ago.

She said about 40 per cent of the properties MethSolutions tested nationwide returned a positive result.

Simon Anderson, chief executive of Realty Services, which operates Eves and Bayleys, said the "whole P thing had become a major issue".

He likened it to the leaky buildings saga.

"It's not going to go away, it's just like the leaky buildings and everything else we have been through. We will manage our way through it to come up with sensible solutions that will see a resolution."

Realty Services had placed company rules around P testing properties, he said.

"That means that landlords test for P in between tenants and that if they refuse to, or don't want to, we disclose that to tenants.

"How it is going to be managed going forward I don't know but we are doing everything for our tenants and our owners' investments by encouraging continuous P testing to make sure the homes are safe."

Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment housing and tenancy services information and education manager Jennifer Sykes said if a landlord rented out a property contaminated by methamphetamine, they may be breaching their obligations under the Residential Tenancies Act.

If a landlord wants to test a premises for methamphetamine during the term of the tenancy, the landlord either needs the permission of the tenant prior to the testing taking place, or there needs to be a clause in the Tenancy Agreement allowing the testing to occur, she said.

But a spokesperson for the ministry said there was new Residential Tenancy Act legislation before Parliament to enable landlords right of entry for a P test and the right to end the tenancy with seven days notice for a positive result.

Meanwhile tenants could end a tenancy with two days notice, if P was found.

Earlier this year Housing Minister Nick Smith announced a new standard for methamphetamine contamination testing and the most significant change was the 1.5μg/100cm2 limit, compared with 0.5μg/100cm2 under the old guidelines.

P in Rotorua
- 13 P-contaminated vacant homes in the Rotorua district
- Three Housing NZ rental properties demolished in the past five years due to high P-contamination levels
- Two in Rotorua, one in Tauranga