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Ministry proposes firm rules for meth residue in rental properties

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The rules intend to give clarity about how landlords, tenants and stakeholders should approach a contaminated home, the ministry said.

The Ministry of Housing and Urban Development has proposed firm rules for methamphetamine residue in rental properties.

A representative said the intention was to give landlords, tenants, and other stakeholders some clarity on how to approach a contaminated home.

Under the proposed rules, landlords would be fined up to $4000 if they knowingly leased a contaminated property. The threshold is 15µg (micro-grams) per square-metre, a level that the Institute of Environmental Science and Research said had a very low probability of harm.

A home would only need to be tested if police believe it has been used to manufacture meth, or if another test performed by the tenant or landlord showed residue above the threshold.

Higher levels of residue could be harmful for tenants, causing headaches, fatigue, and persistent infections. Methamphetamine contamination is also associated with local effects on the skin, eyes or respiratory tract.

Not all contaminated houses had been meth labs, the ministry said, with surface-testing only confirming that the substance had been used.

It hoped the regulations would help landlords, as well as tenants. The ministry said many landlords were unsure how to respond upon receiving a test result, often spending unnecessary amounts of money on new carpets, curtains and wall-linings.

The proposal would make that process cheaper, advising landlords to high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter-vacuum and steam clean their fabrics instead of disposing of them entirely.

The Regulation of Methamphetamine Contamination in Rental Housing proposal is open for consultation until the 20 February 2023.

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