Methamphetamine Residue Testing
Australia has the highest number of meth users per capita in the English speaking world, and that number is now three times higher than it was in 2011. In NSW, the number of meth labs has doubled over the past six years.
You may not realise it, but the biggest threat to rental properties is not meth labs, it’s meth users. Smoking meth inside regularly can contaminate a home and regular smoking of the drug can return contamination readings as high as those produced by a meth lab.
Contamination levels greater than 0.5μg/100cm² require a property to be remediated. Decontamination can require treating or ripping out carpet, curtains, wall linings, ceilings, electrical wiring, air conditioners, heating and insulation. Insurance cover is available, but it usually sets a cover limit (i.e. $30,000) and requires a substantial excess payment.
Discovering contamination as early as possible makes remediation less expensive. It also means meth-using tenants can be evicted before contamination levels increase any further.
Why have a Meth Residue Test?
As a property owner or manager, you are ultimately responsible for ensuring a property is safe for habitation. Australian laws (EPA and local government) say that meth contamination above 0.5 micrograms in a space 100cm square (0.5μg/100cm²) is not acceptable. Landlords face law suits from tenants moving into an already-contaminated property, and adjoining neighbours may also seek legal advice.
While meth residue is odourless and invisible, exposure can cause a wide range of health problems for the property’s occupants, including:
Respiratory problems – especially for those suffering from asthma
Behaviour problems in young children
Sleep pattern changes in children
Increased susceptibility to illness
Eye and skin irritation
When to have a Meth Residue Test
We recommend rental properties are screened regularly for meth residue. Not only does it ensure early detection, when remediation is less likely to be expensive, it also deters tenants from using or making meth on your property.
There have been cases recently where tenants have sued landlords, because health problems led to discovery of meth residue in the homes they were renting. Screening for meth residue between tenancies ensures you are living up to your responsibility to provide a home that is fit for purpose.
Are you adding to your rental property portfolio or buying a home to live in? A pre-purchase meth residue screening can help to ensure you’re not buying a house or apartment with an invisible problem.
If you are selling a property in a suburb, town or rural area that is known for meth use or manufacturing, being able to advertise that your property is free of meth residue is an advantage.