Understanding the Gluckman Meth Report

The Government recently commissioned Sir Peter Gluckman to prepare a report on meth. The report identified that in other countries meth investigations focused on identifying meth labs, and that the New Zealand approach is to hold meth labs and meth smoking to the same standard.

This has caused a lot of unnecessary cost to landlords and their insurers. Gluckman recommends that the standard measure of of 1.5 μg/100 cm2 should be increased tenfold. Yet, months after Gluckman’s findings the recommendations have not been universally adopted by Government agencies and insurers.

Gluckman Report Summary – The two types of Meth Contamination

1. Making meth

The report outlined how passive, third-hand exposure to methamphetamine can arise through residing in a dwelling previously used as a clandestine meth lab. There’s evidence for adverse physiological and behavioural symptoms associated with third-hand exposure to former meth labs, but these are normally tied to the use of other toxic chemicals in the environment during the manufacturing process, rather than to the meth itself.

2. Using meth

Gluckman also found there is currently no evidence (in either humans or animals) that third-hand exposure to methamphetamine smoking residues on household surfaces can cause negative health effects.

The bottom line

The report concludes that:

  • Levels below 15 μg/100 cm2 isn’t likely to negatively effect people.
  • Cleaning properties according to the existing standard is needed only for former meth labs and properties.

Who has adapted the recommendation?

  • Housing New Zealand immediately raised its trigger with the report’s recommendations and said they would only test when heavy use was suspected. Having spent over $100m on trying to clean meth houses, it’s great that HNZ took action quickly.
  • Real Estate Authority (REA) issued new disclosure guidelines for agents in the wake of Gluckman’s bombshell report. Real estate agents now only have to tell potential buyers if a property has a reading over 15 μg.
  • The Tenancy Tribunal – at the 2018 NZPIF annual conference the tenancy tribunal’s principal tenancy adjudicator Melissa Poole confirmed orders for contamination lodged after the Gluckman report will follow the 15μg level.

Who hasn’t adopted Gluckman’s recommendation?

  • MOH (Ministry of Health) still uses the June 2017 standard of 1.5 μg.

Insurance companies typically still define the meth contamination level “as the relevant guideline for indoor surface contamination, as set out in the most recent version of the New Zealand Standard NZS 8510”.

How does this affect my landlord insurance?

Until there is a change to the New Zealand Standard, there will be limited change to the handling of meth for landlord insurance providers.

Until the government changes the standard, contamination over the 1.5 μg will trigger a claim under most policies.

Initio’s landlord policy continues to pay low level meth contamination claims under 15 μg which unfortunately continues to put pressure on insurance premiums.

Tips to lowering your meth risk 

  • Meth test new homes before you go unconditional. Despite the REA adopting 15, any home testing over 1.5 is untenanted.
  • Obtain reference checks for all adult tenants.
  • Regular documented inspections.
  • Advise your tenant that you will be undertaking meth testing.