Newsletter February 2018
Diamond Property Management
In my Christmas message I mentioned the growing problem methamphetamine poses for property owners. In just a few years the issue has spread fast through society and it continues at pace. The risks have now become real for the best of properties.
Just a few weeks ago here in Christchurch an 18-y-o was jailed after he shoved a rifle in the mouth of a man whose eftpos card he stole to fund his habit: the lad was using 2 grams - more than $2,000 worth – of meth every day. http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/100835443/young-christchurch-robber-had-a-2000aday-methamphetamine-habit
A couple of days later a 24-year-old was jailed for a “meth-fuelled" home invasion and drugs robbery in which the victim was tied up and bashed”.
And you will be aware of many other news reports of meth importers, distributors, cooks and users. We will not tolerate any of them in your property.
But in a worrying trend Police say the problem is coming up-market: where once meth tended to be found in low-cost suburbs, increasingly it’s coming into better properties. A typical scenario: young people have friends around, someone brings meth and smokes it inside. Then we inherit a problem – it’s a meth house. It need not be a ‘clan lab’ as the cooking dens are called, just somewhere people are smoking meth.
There is cost, often big dollars, when meth is found in a house. Decontamination is a five-figure and even six-figure sum, plus associated costs. And you’re probably aware insurance companies are limiting how much they will cover.
That’s bad enough, but for us the stigma is just as worrying: neighbours and others talk and the place becomes known a meth house, regardless of how little or much has contaminated the place and what cleanup has been done. None of us wants to own, buy or sell, or live in a meth house.
There’s a lot of hysteria and misinformation around meth (aka P, ice, crack) but the problem is very real. A Tuakau landlord was fined $7,500 for renting out a meth house. A Southland couple lost their entire investment through meth-using tenants.
And under 2016 law we are responsible to provide a safe environment (no meth!) for contractors coming in for repairs etc.
Diamond has a policy of zero tolerance for meth in any of our properties.
The best defence is careful selection of tenants. As you’re aware we are very vigilant at the start, following up with three-monthly inspections. But still we can’t control those friends and visitors. With the meth problem growing so quickly it’s now a pressing issue for everyone in property.
Fortunately the industry has answered. A new national Standard has now been introduced, giving us some real powers such as eviction of tenants in seven days when meth is found. And for the first time the rules set clear guidelines for testing and recognition of meth.
That’s very important. A key driver for the Standard was establishing ground rules for the whole property industry to follow, to avoid or deal with meth in buildings. It provides a rock-solid defence if we have a problem which ends up at the Tenancy Tribunal or any legal level – provided we have been pro-active and followed the rules.
In real terms it comes down to testing the property and showing it negative for meth, in laboratory results, at the beginning of the tenancy period. If meth is then found during the tenancy, we can trigger the 7-day eviction plus cost liability. The Standard’s ground rules mean the Tribunal will say we have proven the tenant is liable.
The Standard sets a level: no more than 1.5 µg/100cm³ (1.5 micrograms of methamphetamine per 100 square centimetres of surface sampled) of meth residue in normal-use areas of the property. That’s a conservatively low level. If a lab test gives a higher reading, we take action. At or below 1.5, it could have blown in from next door, for example.
The cost of testing is minimal in comparison. Several types of testing are available but I recommend a level called The Query, or Field Composite in official terms. It’s a laboratory test recognised under the Standard and we arrange it through a professional testing company. The cost for a normal 3-bedroom rental is $218.50 ($190 +GST); for a typical 4-bedroom $276.00 ($240 +GST); for the largest dwelling $322.00 ($280 +GST). You may have heard of more expensive testing: we would use that when we know or strongly suspect there’s meth in a home.
To have our own ducks in a row, I recommend we have your property tested now. This will establish a foundation for the coming year. Then we should test each property at every change of tenancy. That means we can use the new powers, but regardless of the Standard it is prudent management.
Obviously a new tenancy is the easiest time to arrange access etc.
You’ll realise of course that the testing itself sends a clear message to tenants. I am telling all tenants that we have zero tolerance for meth in and around the property. And they will know the testers are coming through - that alone sends a strong message.
I am happy to discuss the meth issue any time. Can I request you let me know if you do not wish to have your property tested.
I look forward to hearing from you
Phone 03 3499 113 or 0274 376 479
Back to Diamond Property Management Newsletter