Quite the News Flash here, and a case study as reference.
Around October last year (2018), Auckland City Council published here on their website new information about meth levels.
ACC states that “the acceptable level (is) (less than 15ug/100cm2), and (if) there was no evidence of meth manufacture.”
The meth manufacture proviso is the same as is in the MoH and Standards NZ Guidelines. Official meth level documentation has always been concerning labs, not smoking. Something that the media did not make clear.
ACC’s updated level information follows on from Twyford’s announcement on TV in May 2018, as detailed here.
Problem with the ACC information – conflicting information
The ACC page refers to the NZ Standard for meth contaminated properties – which says that over 1.5 is not ok.
I spoke with a senior environmental manager at ACC. He was on the team that helped create NZ Standards document so I’m confident he knows the issues.
We agreed the information on the ACC page is confusing and perhaps contradictory.
However, he confirmed that ACC currently works to a 15 mcgms/100cm2 level.
ACC will update their information and actions around meth contamination when the government issues new guidelines or regulations – something that is currently underway.
He also told me that different councils around New Zealand are working to different levels.
Good news for Auckland landlords and house vendors.
Great cost can be avoided now. If the level from a Field Composite meth test is under 15, there appears to be no need to do any further testing, or cleaning.
Insurance companies still working to 1.5
This from State insurance website; “how is meth contamination damage measured?
Standards New Zealand have developed guidelines for safe meth contamination limits (NZS8510-2017). If high-use areas in a property show meth present at levels exceeding 1.5 micrograms of methamphetamine per 100sq cm (1.5ug/100cm²), the area will be regarded as contaminated.”
Speaks for itself doesn’t it.
TIP: ALWAYS CHECK WITH YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY BEFORE UNDERTAKING ANY ACTION, OR PAINTING, REGARDING METH CONTAMINATION.
Case Study: good example of how this issue affects real people.
A tenant requested a meth test on a property they had just moved into. They had noticed suspicious chemical containers in a shed, a fire pit in the back yard, sugarsoap bottle in the laundry sink and evidence of windows being permanently covered.
Sure enough, the Field Composite result was 19.5. That’s total cumulative over 5 locations (it was a small cottage).
The tenant moved out immediately saying 1.5 is dangerous. I was contacted by the property manager who said correctly, that ACC says 15 per room is OK.
Add to this situation that the house had just been fully painted inside with new flooring and new curtains. And, that during one of the two or three nights that the tenant had slept there, the cops had turned up with guns saying that this was a gang house! Couldn’t be more suspicious.
What to do?
In this case the owner had to take some action anyway as the result was over 15. They decided to skip detailed testing, and get the house cleaned before doing a post-clean test. A reasonable choice.
Lots of drama, inconvenience and expense for all involved.
I wonder how Tenancy would rule on this case if it went to Tribunal?
All we can do is work with what we’ve got – the apparently conflicting information from Standards NZ and ACC, and wait for the government to come out with clear rules and regulations.