The Facts around Methylamphetamine and rental property contamination.

Why end of lease sampling might save you in the long run.

When purchasing a home, it’s common practice for conscientious buyers to arrange pre-purchase building and pest inspections.

However, one often overlooked consideration is whether the property might be contaminated with illicit substances. Approximately 48% of rental properties in Australia test positive for illicit drug contamination.

Health Effects of Contamination

Methylamphetamine contamination typically occurs due to regular methamphetamine use or proximity to meth labs. This leaves behind a chemical residue that permeates walls, floors, drains, ducting, furnishings, and fittings. This contamination can persist within a property’s structure for many years.

Health risks associated with such contamination include respiratory issues, skin conditions, throat irritation, headaches, irritability, and increased susceptibility to illness. Children may also experience behavioural problems and sleep disturbances.

Prolonged exposure can lead to cardiovascular effects such as increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, chest pain, and an increased risk of stroke. Exposure to chemicals used in methamphetamine production is also linked to chronic health problems and cancer.

Conditions for Contamination

According to the Australian Government’s guidelines, any presence of methylamphetamine on surfaces exceeding 0.5 micrograms per 100cm² is considered unsafe and must be decontaminated for the structure to be ruled habitable.

Under section 27A(1)(a) of the Public Health Regulation 2018, a property where dangerous drugs have been or may have been unlawfully produced (such as a meth lab) poses a public health risk under the Public Health Act 2005 

Detection of Contamination

Detecting methamphetamine contamination is challenging because the residue is invisible and odorless. Property samples must be taken and tested to determine contamination.

Indicators that a property may have been used for meth production include unusual chemical odours, presence of chemical containers, glassware or cookware, plastic or glass containers with tubing, chemical stains, portable gas tanks, missing light bulbs, and disabled smoke detectors.

Pre-purchase Testing Recommendations

Given the significant health risks and costly removal processes associated with contamination, prospective buyers are strongly advised to conduct pre-purchase testing by a licenced professional.

Legal Obligations for Landlords and Property Managers

Under section 185(2)(b) of the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008, landlords must ensure premises are fit for habitation. This includes taking reasonable steps to ensure properties are free from harmful contaminants, potentially extending to testing if contamination is suspected.

Disclosure Requirements for Agents and Sellers

While there is no explicit legislation mandating disclosure of contamination to buyers, obligations can be inferred under Australian Consumer Law. Real estate agents and sellers are prohibited from engaging in misleading or deceptive conduct, which may include failing to disclose material information like contamination.

Agents must disclose any information likely to affect a buyer’s decision, which contamination certainly would given its remediation costs and health implications.

Actions for Property Managers and Landlords

If property managers suspect illicit activity on their premises, they should immediately notify the police.

Property managers and landlords are advised to conduct regular testing of leased premises and perform tests at the end of tenancies before new tenants move in. They should also review their insurance coverage to ensure protection against drug contamination discovery.

By implementing these measures, landlords and property managers can fulfill their duty of care to tenants and avoid potential legal liabilities stemming from undetected contamination.

Are you in need of Methylamphetamine sampling for your property? Sydney Wollongong & Hunter Restoration are licenced to test, and here to help. 

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