Over the last several days, the government has released a fairly damning report concerning the current testing of houses for methamphetamines.
In a report commissioned by the Housing Minister, Phil Twyford, it has been shown that people are unlikely to suffer health issues from third-hand meth usage. In other words, the potential risks from living in a house where meth has been used are unlikely to present a serious risk to people’s health. Instead, usage of the drug would have needed to be rampant or the house would have needed to be considered as a ‘meth lab’, to present a real danger.
The report, which was conducted by Professor Sir Peter Gluckman, believes that the current belief that 1.5mcg/100cm2 is the level of contamination to cause serious health risks is incorrect. Stating, “exposure to 10 times higher (15mcg/100cm2) would also be unlikely to have any adverse effects”.
Gluckman reinforced the report’s results by saying, “in terms of the housing estate, mould is far more dangerous than meth”.
Twyford, commissioned the report late last year, amidst the heightened public anxiety about meth contamination and the rapid growth of the testing and remediation industry.
Believing that the widely held perception that exposure to relatively low levels of meth residue poses serious health risks to people. This has lead to a boom in the meth-testing industry over the past several years.
As a result of this perception, everyone from Housing NZ, private owners, tenants and real estate agents have been affected.
It’s reported, Housing NZ has spent $100 million over the past four years in order to test and treat houses which they believed to pose a high risk. Private owners have been forced to pay for these reports, as they have become critical aspects of the sales process. With an often disastrous impact on the ability to either sell or lease a property if a house was ‘contaminated’. Or at worse, their home and every dollar attached to it crushed to dust as it was beyond cleaning to a ‘safe’ level.
Not to mention the thousands of tenants, in private and state housing, that have been displaced (often with no notice) as a result of contamination reports. The new report suggests this response was misleading and unnecessary.
However, as to be expected, the report has been met with backlash from the meth-testing industry. Believing this report is misleading and driven by the governments social and economic policies.
A Chief executive of a leading testing company believes the report “panders to the economic and social policy direction the government is looking to set”.
He further argues that regardless of the shortage of state housing and the general housing shortage in areas such as Auckland, changing the level that is deemed to be safe is not the answer. Instead, he believes it will cause more harm than good.
This news could not have been more welcomed by property owners and tenants, especially high-risk tenants that rely on state housing. A number of property groups, real estate agencies and community groups, have come out in support of the report.
Although Gluckman’s report seems to be a step in the right direction, there is still a lot to be done. Especially, regarding the establishment of new guidelines around appropriate contamination levels and industry best practices. Real estate agents and property managers are calling for the Real Estate Authority to release guidelines revolving around how to deal with the situation in the future.
What does this mean for you, as a first-home buyer or a property investor?
It will still take a bit of time for perception to change around acceptable limits of contamination and how it will affect the property market. Gluckman believes that this report won’t stop people from getting their houses tested but it will change how people perceive the results.
Ultimately, as we advise, in order to make the best decision possible, you need all the information necessary. If this includes getting a meth-test done for peace of mind, get one done.
If you want to discuss what this report means for you, don’t hesitate to contact us. We will be able to advise you on the right course of action for your situation.