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Tribunal’s methamphetamine rulings send strong message

24 March 2016

Tribunal’s methamphetamine rulings send strong message

Housing New Zealand will seek to retrieve remediation costs of up to $54,000 from two different tenants who have contaminated properties through the use of methamphetamine (P).

A Tenancy Tribunal ruling has ordered a former Housing New Zealand tenant to pay more than $34,000 after contaminating her Ashburton state house, while another ruling ordered a former Whangarei tenant to pay more than $17,000 for contamination.

“We welcome these decisions and we will not be taking a backward step in addressing this issue. The rulings send a strong message to all of our tenants – Housing New Zealand will not tolerate criminal activity in its homes and we will move swiftly to end tenancies where it occurs,” says Chief Operating Officer, Paul Commons.

“The rulings also help ensure that the financial burden for remediation work does not fall to the taxpayer and we are being more vigilant than ever around retrieving costs from ‘offending’ tenants.”

The organisation will also call in other agencies, such as the NZ Police and Child, Youth and Family, to ensure the safety of dependant children exposed to meth contamination.

Mr Commons adds that another impact of contamination is the length of time vulnerable people on the social housing register have to wait for a home to undergo the cleaning and remediation process. In serious situations, they can wait for up to three months.

Over the last few years, Housing New Zealand has placed greater focus on identifying homes where P may be used, or may have been used in the past (rather than manufactured).

“As a responsible landlord, our policy is to not knowingly permit tenants to live in a property that registers readings above Ministry of Health levels. This supports our commitment to providing a healthy environment for our tenants.

“As a social landlord and an employer, the wellbeing of staff, tenants and their neighbours is our highest priority and we have robust health and safety controls in place for situations when methamphetamine contamination is suspected at one of our properties.”

He adds, “The social, health and wellbeing, and environmental impacts of meth are extensive, but it’s important to understand that this is not only a Housing New Zealand problem. It is an issue facing societies all around the world – this harmful drug is used by people of all ages, backgrounds and social standing.”

The issue of testing all vacant Housing New Zealand properties for methamphetamine contamination is currently under consideration, Mr Commons says.

Ends

More information about the cases

In the Ashburton case, the tenant was ordered to pay $34,176.76 in costs including:

· Initial screening test $494.50

· Detailed chemical testing $3,974.23

· Clearing grounds $3,881.25

· Decontamination and waste disposal $24,925.68

· Retesting $1,603.61


In the Whangarei case, the tenant was ordered to pay $17,138.03 in costs.

Our average national costs are:

· $2,750 - Initial Test

· $10,000 – Decontamination

· $1,600 - Retest.

Ends

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