Australia has the highest number of meth users per capita in the English speaking world, and that number is now three times higher than it was in 2011. In NSW, the number of meth labs has doubled over the past six years.
You may not realise it, but the biggest threat to rental properties is not meth labs, it’s meth users. Smoking meth inside regularly can contaminate a home and regular smoking of the drug can return contamination readings as high as those produced by a meth lab.
How this effects you
As a property owner or manager, you are ultimately responsible for ensuring a property is safe for habitation. Australian laws (EPA and local government) say that meth contamination above 0.5 micrograms in a space 100cm square (0.5μg/100cm²) is not acceptable. Landlords face law suits from tenants moving into an already-contaminated property, and adjoining neighbours may also seek legal advice.
Contamination levels greater than 0.5μg/100cm² require a property to be remediated. Decontamination can require treating or ripping out carpet, curtains, wall linings, ceilings, electrical wiring, air conditioners, heating and insulation. Insurance cover is available, but it usually sets a cover limit (i.e. $30,000) and requires a substantial excess payment.
Discovering contamination as early as possible makes remediation less expensive. It also means meth-using tenants can be evicted before contamination levels increase any further.
While meth residue is odourless and invisible, exposure can cause a wide range of health problems for the property’s occupants, including:
- Respiratory problems – especially for those suffering from asthma
- Behaviour problems in young children
- Sleep pattern changes in children
- Increased susceptibility to illness
- Eye and skin irritation
Australia is in the grip of an ice epidemic and hundreds of clandestine drug labs are springing up around the country each year, in suburban homes, motels and even in car boots and trucks. Authorities warn the labs are leaving a toxic legacy, with meth cooks contaminating properties with a cocktail of deadly chemicals and dumping the waste in national parks and waterways.ABC NEWS