Contamination by illegal substances such as meth labs in residential properties is becoming far too familiar. Experts say there could be up to 2000 P labs operating in rented houses in New Zealand, yet police only bust 200 P labs each year.
What can landlords do to protect themselves against their rental property being used as a P lab?
Get the right insurance, and know the signs to look out for.
Know your insurance policy
Dangerous chemicals used in the manufacture of P penetrate soft furnishings, walls, paint, floors, and even metal surfaces. The cost of decontaminating and cleaning a property that has been used as a P lab can be up to $50,000.
Some insurance policies have an “illegal substances” extension that will help cover this cost. This is subject to the terms and conditions of specific policies. So landlords need to make sure they know the details of their policy to be sure they are covered, and how much they are covered for.
Know what your property manager needs to do
Is your property looked after by a property manager? If it is, he/she also needs to be aware of the terms and conditions of your policy. There are often conditions your property manager needs to meet – or you may not be able to claim.
For example, does your property manager complete internal and external inspections of the property at a minimum of three-monthly intervals, and keep a record of the outcome of those?
Each insurer may have different conditions or sub limits on their policy. So if you are unsure or want some clarification, please contact your broker. We are here to help.
Know the signs
According to Kirk Hardy, CEO of the Drug Detection Agency, there are several ‘property and people indicators’ of a P lab operating in a property. These include:
- Chemical odours and dead vegetation around a section.
- Visible stains on curtains, walls and ceilings.
- Waste including empty medicine packaging, paint thinner containers and coffee filters with white or red powdery substances.
- Tenants who only pay in cash.
- The property being fitted with an elaborate CCTV system, and an increase in visitors.
Hill, B. (2016, March 26) How to spot a P-contaminated house before buying. New Zealand Herald. Retrieved from: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11612205
Van der Stoep, L. (2010, November 7). Unaware of P-lab poisoning. Herald on Sunday. Retrieved from: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10685853