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Methamphetamine contamination and the industries surrounding testing and remediation have been under microscopic scrutiny as of late. With the release of the official report by the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor in May 2018 regarding the evidence of health effects of contamination in residential properties, there are – finally – some objective and scientifically based guidelines when it comes to dealing with methamphetamine contamination.

Subsequent to the report’s release, the Real Estate Authority (REA) released a Methamphetamine Disclosure guide and some more information regarding methamphetamine contamination in the home. HomeLegal has abbreviated this information into a need-to-know guide for future property owners and landlords:

When should you disclose methamphetamine levels?

A seller and real estate agent must disclose meth contamination when levels reach over 15 micrograms per 100cm2.

Unless a prospective buyer or tenant explicitly or impliedly queries methamphetamine testing, then a seller and real estate agent do not have to disclose test results below 15 micrograms per 100cm2.

If the property’s previous dwellers have been using meth and this has been remediated to a reading below 15 micrograms per 100cm2 level, further disclosure is not required.  If the property’s previous dwellers have been using the property to manufacture meth specific legal advice should be sought.

Before taking further action, it’s important to have discussions with your agent and your solicitors for guidance on the matter of disclosure.

If a property sits below the disclosure level, is it safe to live in?

According to the report and REA, a property that tests below 15 micrograms per 100cm2 is considered safe to live in with no adverse health effects, and this still includes a large safety buffer.

The report concludes that there is little reason to test a property for meth contamination unless there is a suspicion that a certain property has been used for meth production or if there has been heavy past use. The report also further states that they found no evidence of any adverse health effects from third-hand exposure to meth smoke residue on household surfaces below the disclosure level.

How does the body react to third-hand meth exposure?

According to the report, meth that is inhaled or absorbed through the skin leaves the body within around a day. Any residue levels within a household also diminish over time, so dwellers won’t be exposed to a constant dose every day.

What if the other party insists on meth testing?

If a vendor or prospective buyer insists on testing the property, REA recommends making them aware that the meth testing industry in New Zealand is not currently regulated. Composite testing, in particular, is not recommended, as this takes multiple samples from different areas and combines them into one single sample, which can give false impressions of a high contamination level.

When do you need to remediate a property?

Remediation back to the disclosure level of 15 micrograms per 100cm2 is only required if meth use occurred within the property, while remediation back to 1.5 micrograms per 100cm2 is required if the property was involved in manufacturing the drug.

What should you do if the property tests positive?

If the test comes back with meth levels above 15 micrograms per 100cm2, ask a meth testing and remediation company for a price estimate as to the cost, bearing in mind that this is not regulated in New Zealand. If you are thinking of buying the property, you can do this yourself, or you can ask the seller to clean and decontaminate the property within your offer as a condition of purchase.  It is critical that the standard of cleaning and decontamination is agreed upon before the work is commenced.

HomeLegal: Local Property Conveyancing Experts

Thinking of buying or selling your home? Our property lawyers here at HomeLegal can help you navigate the complexities of property conveyancing – providing guidance on issues such as methamphetamine contamination, writing or settling an offer, and more.

HomeLegal lawyers are available to meet in our offices at Wellington, Lower Hutt, or Upper Hutt – contact us today at 0508 HOMELEGAL!

Information within this blog post is based on Real Estate Authority and the official Methamphetamine Contamination report by Professor Sir Peter Gluckman, Chief Science Advisor of the Prime Minister.