You've probably read the disastrous headlines about meth contamination and the costs involved with cleaning up the mess it leaves behind. Trust me we've been on the front-line of this dealing with a number of claims from apartments, houses and even cars. Let's cover off the basics:
The problem is real and is not going to go away
According to Housing New Zealand 279 of its 68,000 properties nationwide tested positive for methamphetamine contamination in the six months up to end December 2015. In those months it spent almost $6 million dollars testing and decontaminating it's properties. Compare that to 2013 where they spent $700,000 and found only 28 houses contaminated.
Drug houses are not limited to poorer areas
In a crisis that could rival the leaky homes disaster, homeowners are forking out millions of dollars to decontaminate methamphetamine contaminated homes. In some cases properties are being destroyed as the cost to decontaminate is just too high. Decontamination costs anything upwards from $1,000 to a few hundred thousand, with hefty replacement costs for furnishings, curtains and wall coverings too.
But statistics suggest this issue is not restricted to state housing or poorer areas only; it’s a growing problem with privately owned homes too, and property experts believe that methamphetamine testing could become a standard condition on sale and purchase agreements.
Here’s what you need to know about methamphetamine testing when buying a property:
If you are concerned about a potential P contamination, test a property before buying. Self-screening kits cost about $150 to $200, but they only detect its presence and not the level of contamination.
If a property tests positive, a professional can test the house to determine the levels and mitigation needed. This typically costs about $2500, but can cost up to $10,000.
Depending on the level of contamination, the home may need cleaning, removal of all soft furnishings or wall linings, or complete demolition. This cost varies but can be so steep, it is cheaper to demolish!
Re-test to check the property is contamination-free, which costs about $2000.
But will my insurer respond if my property is contaminated?
We've found most insurers have limited responses or are silent on the issue of "unlawful substances". In many cases we've dealt with the response comes down to the policy wording, the extensions which have been taken (such as the landlords extension), and your obligations as a landlord.
As always it pays to speak with your adviser or insurer and they can talk you through your obligations and the insurers response should a claim happen.