Houses tested for meth

Tests at buyer's request but cost of detection and decontamination is high.

Tests at buyer's request but cost of detection and decontamination is high.

File picture

TESTING for methamphetamine contamination in Gisborne properties is on the rise.

Real estate agents and landlords are taking the matter seriously, with properties tested often at the buyer’s request.

There are three companies in Gisborne that can test for P with an initial quick test to see if there are traces of P before a more substantial test is carried out.

This first test costs about $200, with the results known within a week. A full test can cost up to $3000 but the cost of decontamination can be 10 times that.

Methamphetamine, meth, crystal meth, or “P” as it is commonly known, is a class A controlled drug.

Living in a house that has been used for the production of P, or where P has been smoked, can make residents and their pets ill. The first sign can be headaches, and the invisible chemical trace of P can linger for many years.

LJ Hooker managing director George Searle said during their time in business they had only had two positive P tests in houses but they were taking the matter seriously.

“We have brought in experts to discuss with our entire team the signs of P use and/or manufacture in a house. We have a policy of ‘if in doubt leave and ensure no one enters until we have certainty around whether it is a P house or not’.

“With regard to our rental portfolio, we are giving the landlords the option of testing when a tenant goes in and after they leave.

“However, there appears to be no firm grasp on how widespread the issue is.

“We also understand that in the history of P becoming an issue, there have been only two labs for the production of P found in Gisborne.”

Solutions to contamination

Meth Solutions is one of the companies that tests for P in Gisborne.

Managing director Miles Stratford said they had “definitely” noticed an increase in people requiring their services.

People testing the most were the ones buying houses, he said.

“Next are tenants who have been experiencing health problems, then landlords who are concerned and being proactive about their property.

“There’s nothing new about meth contamination in properties. The thing that has changed is that people are now more aware of it.”

P vapour invades soft furnishings, ceilings and walls, leaving a toxic residue in its wake.

Mr Stratford compares it with a house that has had a cigarette smoker in it — the ceilings are yellow from the smoke and the furniture smells of it too.

“But meth has no real odour or colour but it has the same effect of getting everywhere.”

Meth Minder

A device called Meth Minder is catching on. Mr Stratford said the device had been around for years and was developed after a holiday home in Wanaka was found to be operating as a meth lab.

It looks a lot like a smoke alarm. If anyone smokes P in its vicinity, an alarm goes off at the owner’s end.

It gives landlords reassurance, said Mr Stratford.

Tracy Real Estate owner Tracy Bristowe said all buyers were given the option to test but it was mainly out-of-town buyers and those buying an investment rental who opted to do it.

If the test was positive, the majority of buyers walked away from the deal, she said.

“Buyers request it to ensure a safe purchase — vendors at this stage have not taken up the practice of doing P-testing prior to putting houses on the market.

“We have not had a sale fall over due to a test.”

Testing positive

But recently a potential buyer emailed her to inform her of a house that had tested positive, in case she listed it.

Bronwyn Kay Agency owner Bronwyn Kay said the property management side of the business tested rentals for P.

For properties for sale, it was a judgment call, she said.

“If we suspect that someone has been involved in drugs, we will get the property tested by way of a clause in their agreement. So far, they have all come back clean.”

Costello Real Estate owner Sue Costello said at this stage it was at the buyer’s request.

“However I am looking to add it in to our listing forms as an automatic procedure. We need to cover ourselves but, more important, I want to deal in safe homes.

“If the test is positive it then goes on to lab tests at the vendor’s expense. If the vendor will not cover the cost of further testing, the purchaser might do it at their cost. If neither will do it, the positive test will be declared to any interested parties. They then have all information needed to make an informed decision.”

The Ministry of Health suggests that total concentrations below 0.5ug/100cm3 are “acceptable”, yet there is no agreed “safe” threshold for methamphetamine residue in a home. In the United States the threshold is 1.5ug/100cm3.

TESTING for methamphetamine contamination in Gisborne properties is on the rise.

Real estate agents and landlords are taking the matter seriously, with properties tested often at the buyer’s request.

There are three companies in Gisborne that can test for P with an initial quick test to see if there are traces of P before a more substantial test is carried out.

This first test costs about $200, with the results known within a week. A full test can cost up to $3000 but the cost of decontamination can be 10 times that.

Methamphetamine, meth, crystal meth, or “P” as it is commonly known, is a class A controlled drug.

Living in a house that has been used for the production of P, or where P has been smoked, can make residents and their pets ill. The first sign can be headaches, and the invisible chemical trace of P can linger for many years.

LJ Hooker managing director George Searle said during their time in business they had only had two positive P tests in houses but they were taking the matter seriously.

“We have brought in experts to discuss with our entire team the signs of P use and/or manufacture in a house. We have a policy of ‘if in doubt leave and ensure no one enters until we have certainty around whether it is a P house or not’.

“With regard to our rental portfolio, we are giving the landlords the option of testing when a tenant goes in and after they leave.

“However, there appears to be no firm grasp on how widespread the issue is.

“We also understand that in the history of P becoming an issue, there have been only two labs for the production of P found in Gisborne.”

Solutions to contamination

Meth Solutions is one of the companies that tests for P in Gisborne.

Managing director Miles Stratford said they had “definitely” noticed an increase in people requiring their services.

People testing the most were the ones buying houses, he said.

“Next are tenants who have been experiencing health problems, then landlords who are concerned and being proactive about their property.

“There’s nothing new about meth contamination in properties. The thing that has changed is that people are now more aware of it.”

P vapour invades soft furnishings, ceilings and walls, leaving a toxic residue in its wake.

Mr Stratford compares it with a house that has had a cigarette smoker in it — the ceilings are yellow from the smoke and the furniture smells of it too.

“But meth has no real odour or colour but it has the same effect of getting everywhere.”

Meth Minder

A device called Meth Minder is catching on. Mr Stratford said the device had been around for years and was developed after a holiday home in Wanaka was found to be operating as a meth lab.

It looks a lot like a smoke alarm. If anyone smokes P in its vicinity, an alarm goes off at the owner’s end.

It gives landlords reassurance, said Mr Stratford.

Tracy Real Estate owner Tracy Bristowe said all buyers were given the option to test but it was mainly out-of-town buyers and those buying an investment rental who opted to do it.

If the test was positive, the majority of buyers walked away from the deal, she said.

“Buyers request it to ensure a safe purchase — vendors at this stage have not taken up the practice of doing P-testing prior to putting houses on the market.

“We have not had a sale fall over due to a test.”

Testing positive

But recently a potential buyer emailed her to inform her of a house that had tested positive, in case she listed it.

Bronwyn Kay Agency owner Bronwyn Kay said the property management side of the business tested rentals for P.

For properties for sale, it was a judgment call, she said.

“If we suspect that someone has been involved in drugs, we will get the property tested by way of a clause in their agreement. So far, they have all come back clean.”

Costello Real Estate owner Sue Costello said at this stage it was at the buyer’s request.

“However I am looking to add it in to our listing forms as an automatic procedure. We need to cover ourselves but, more important, I want to deal in safe homes.

“If the test is positive it then goes on to lab tests at the vendor’s expense. If the vendor will not cover the cost of further testing, the purchaser might do it at their cost. If neither will do it, the positive test will be declared to any interested parties. They then have all information needed to make an informed decision.”

The Ministry of Health suggests that total concentrations below 0.5ug/100cm3 are “acceptable”, yet there is no agreed “safe” threshold for methamphetamine residue in a home. In the United States the threshold is 1.5ug/100cm3.

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