Drug Lab Contamination in Residential Properties

Its a growing trend as Auckland grows as an international city, recently in Auckland more than 250kg of ContacNT and pure ephedrine, both of which can be used to make methamphetamine, have been discovered in a shipping container in Auckland. (see article) . The 264kg haul could have produced methamphetamine with a street value of $72 million.

That precusor is eventually destined for Plabs throughout NZ many based in leased or rented properties. This week Queen City Law property expert Jan Chen looks at the Aftermath of “Breaking Bad” or The Issue of Drug Lab Contamination in Residential Properties. To read this article as a tablet and print friendly click here.

To read more articles by Jan Chen click here. To find out more about Jan click here.

161213-contact-nt600As much as we enjoy the plot in Breaking Bad, it is not so desirable when this happens in reality, especially for those Landlords out there. Methamphetamine (“P”) contamination is an increasing problem in rental properties in New Zealand. The process of manufacturing P will produce poisonous bi-products that will permanently contaminate the property.

Health Hazards

Living in a P contaminated environment is dangerous. The poisonous residue in the house may cause the following effects to the human body:

– Asthma like symptoms, breathing difficulties, skin rashes, irritations, headache and nausea, chronic fatigue, central nervous system disease, stroke and cancer. The residue can be hidden in chattels such as furniture, and fixtures such as carpets, wall paint, sinks, drains, and ventilation systems. House owners are not encouraged to clean up themselves as common household cleaning products (i.e. bleach) may produce mustard gas that is fatal to the human body.

Once the property has been identified as P contaminated, the council will issue a Cleansing Order pursuant to the Health Act 1956. This Cleansing Order will remain on the title until all validation reports and other information are provided and satisfactory to the council in all aspects.

Such record will remain on the Land Information Memorandum (“LIM”) database and property file records permanently.

On average the cost of testing is around $3,000, and the cost of cleaning can vary significantly between $5,000 to even $100,000 depending on the level of contamination. In extreme cases, demolition and removing of top soil may be required.residentialmeth_lab

It is also worthwhile noting that insurance may not cover all costs associated with the damage. In assessing the merit of each claim, the insurer will examine whether the owner:

– took reasonable steps to prevent loss or damage; – carried out regular inspections; – met their insurance policy obligations; – knew of any criminal activities prior to loss or damage; and whether or not:

– the clean-up costs are legitimate; – the policy covers such damage; and – a policy exclusion applies.

We highly recommend that owners review their policies carefully; otherwise the potential financial impact on the owner would be substantial.

Prevention

Signs that P Lab has been operating:

– unusual chemical smells;

– brown stains on walls and floors;

– chemical stains around kitchen sink, laundry or toilet;

– numerous chemical containers;

– large quantities of Cold & Flu packages found around in and the property;

 – unusual activities carried out by the occupier i.e. curtains/blinds drawn during the day.

Recommendationequipmentmeth_lab

– Regularly monitor the tenant’s activities and report any suspicious activities;

– Carry out regular inspections of the property;

– Home buyers: obtain a full due diligence report before purchasing the property.

If you think the property you have purchased or are thinking of purchasing has been involved in the manufacture of illegal drugs contact us .