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REINZ Calls For Greater Clarification On Meth Testing Levels As Confusion Causes Chaos

The Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) has today called for greater clarification from the Government on the acceptable meth testing levels for properties, as confusion between the ‘Ministry of Health/New Zealand Standard’ 1.5 µg/100 cm2 level and the ‘Gluckman Report’ level of 15.0 µg/100 cm2 continues to cause chaos for real estate agents, property managers and landlords.

According to the Tenancy Services website, new regulations were due to be developed as part of the Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2019 which would set out: the maximum acceptable level for meth contamination; the process for testing; and the decontamination of rental properties. However, this is work is still to be completed, and the delay is causing significant issues across the industry.

Wendy Alexander, Acting Chief Executive at REINZ says: “Since the Gluckman Report was published in 2018, the REA (the governing body for real estate professionals) has advised that meth contamination of 15.0ug/100cm2 or above is considered a property defect that must be disclosed to potential buyers.

“However, if a property tests positive for meth, but contamination is below 15.0 µg/100 cm2, real estate agents do not need to proactively disclose this unless they are specifically asked by a potential purchaser whether there are any other reports or meth tests available, or where the prospective buyer is clearly concerned about meth contamination; even if the property’s contamination levels were initially over the Gluckman threshold and have been remediated to be below the threshold,” continues Alexander.

“Real estate agents are caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to disclosing meth contamination below 15.0ug/100 cm2 to the public and therefore meeting what many consumers would see as a moral obligation to disclose, and the regulator’s (REA) advice that disclosure is not required unless the prospective buyer makes enquiries or raises concerns about meth generally,” points out Alexander.

Property managers and landlords are also facing similar challenges with rental properties.

“Some insurance companies will pay out at the NZ Standard level and others will only pay out at the Gluckman Report level. Some Tenancy Tribunal Adjudicators use the Gluckman Report, some use the New Zealand Standard, and others use a combination of both when making a ruling,” she points out.

Property managers and landlords also face issues around health and safety and what is deemed ‘reasonably tidy’.

“Technically a property can be rented out to tenants at 14 ug/100cm2 but under WorkSafe guidelines property managers are unable to enter the property to carry out quarterly inspections and tradespeople need to be notified of the level to carry out any work in protective clothing,” says Alexander.

“Additionally, there are effectively two different rates – one for outgoing tenants and one for ingoing tenants.

“Unsurprisingly, owners are extremely frustrated with the situation and don’t know where they stand. Some owners have given up entirely and are no longer meth testing properties between a change of tenants, further compounding the problem. One landlord we spoke to succinctly summed up the situation as ‘impossible’,” continues Alexander.

“Real estate agents, property managers and landlords are all crying out for clarity from the Government and for one set of guidelines to work to. Methamphetamine is still a Class A drug and its use is illegal, which just further compounds what is already a difficult situation.

“It is our hope that the Government will address the issue sooner, rather than later, especially as this was meant to be addressed back in 2019,” concludes Alexander.

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