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 significant unnecessary cost to landlords and their insurers. Gluckman recommends that the standard measure of of 1.5 μg/100 cm2 should be increased 10 fold. Yet, months after Gluckman’s findings the recommendations have not been universally adopted by Government agencies and insurers.
Gluckman report summary: Lets look at the two types of meth contamination:
Gluckman states that passive, third-hand exposure to methamphetamine can arise through residing in a dwelling previously used as a clandestine meth lab. There is some evidence for adverse physiological and behavioural symptoms associated with third-hand exposure to former meth labs, but these mostly relate to the other toxic chemicals in the environment released during the manufacturing process, rather than to the methamphetamine itself.
Gluckman also finds that there is currently no evidence (in either humans or animals) that the levels typically resulting from third-hand exposure to methamphetamine smoking residues on household surfaces can elicit an adverse health effect. He does note, however, that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence of an effect, and identifies that there is a clear need for more research and a co-ordinated inter-agency effort to build up a robust dataset.
What does all this this mean?
The report concludes that exposure to methamphetamine levels below 15 μg/100 cm2 would be unlikely to give rise to any adverse human effects and that remediation according to the NZS 8510:2017 standard is appropriate only for identified former meth labs and properties where excessive methamphetamine use, as indicated by high levels of methamphetamine contamination.
The recommendation therefore is to increase the standard from 1.5 μg/100 cm2 to 15 μg/100 cm2. Landlords and landlord insurance providers would welcome this change.
Who has adapted the recommendation?
HNZ (housing New Zealand) immediately raised its trigger to 15μg per 100cm2, in line with the report’s recommendations – and said they would only test when heavy use or production was suspected. Having spent over $100m on trying to clean meth houses HNZ decided to take action quickly.
The Real Estate Authority (REA) has issued the 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 meth contamination reading over 15 μg/100 cm2.
The Tenancy Tribunal – At the 2018 NZPIF annual conference the tenancy tribunal’s principal tenancy adjudicator Melissa Poole confirmed that orders for contamination that was lodged after the Gluckman report was released on May 29 will follow the Gluckman report levels of 15μg per 100cm2.
Who hasn’t adopted Gluckamans recommendation?
MOH (Ministry of Health) still uses the June 2017 standard of 1.5 μg/100 cm2 (NZS 8510:2017).
Insurers – you will find most (if not all) insurance policy wordings define the meth contamination level along the following lines “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?
The Gluckman report is a non event for insurance. Until there is a change to the New Zealand Standard, there will be no change to the handling of meth for landlord insurance providers.
Until the government changes the standard, contamination over the current 1.5mg/100cm2 limit will trigger a landlord insurance claim. Initio’s landlord insurance policy continues to pay low level meth contamination claims under 15 μg/100 cm2. This continues to put pressure on insurance premiums.
The insurance industry is anticipating that the Standard will be changed by Government before the year is out. But this has not been confirmed. Until then, it is business and meth as usual.
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 untenantable and uninsurable.
- Obtain reference checks for all adult tenants.
- Regular documented inspections.
- Advise your tenant that you will be undertaking meth testing.