Purchasers Beware: Methamphetamine Contamination is a Real Risk

Tom Willis

August 2016 . . . Methamphetamine is a Class A controlled drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975. It is commonly referred to as Meth, Crystal Meth, Ice or P.

The process of manufacturing Meth involves ‘cooking’ and releasing a range of highly dangerous and poisonous chemicals which releases toxic by-products. These toxic by-products can end up contaminating a dwelling. Contaminated homes and exposure to Meth chemicals can lead to liver or kidney damage, neurological problems, increased risk of cancer and respiratory problems.

Once Meth has been manufactured in a dwelling the chemical and toxic residue can seep into the carpets, furniture, gib, insulation and ventilation systems. It can linger there indefinitely unless the property is thoroughly decontaminated. The cost of the decontamination process can range from $5,000.00 to $50,000.00 depending on the extent and scope of the contamination. In worse case situations the only option is to demolish the dwelling.

Meth contamination in State houses used as rental properties is a growing problem in New Zealand. According to Housing New Zealand Corporation (“HNZC”) 2014 statistics (arguably New Zealand’s largest landlord) out of 196 State houses tested by HNZC, 101 were contaminated with Meth.

Make no mistake- the problem of Meth contaminated homes is a real and escalating problem. Some commentators suggest that the alarmingly growing risk of Meth contamination could be more serious than the ‘Leaky Homes’ crisis.


The following is list of some of the typical characteristics that indicate a dwelling may have been subject to P-Lab activity:

  1. The property has been used as a rental property.
  2. The property has frequent visitors or access denied to neighbours.
  3. The property has a history of the windows and curtains being shut throughout the day.
  4. There are sickly sweet or solvent smells present at the property.
  5. Discoloured ceilings and/or kitchen benches.


If you suspect that a dwelling is subject to possible Meth contamination we strongly recommend that a Due Diligence or satisfactory Meth Inspection Clause is inserted into the Agreement for Sale and Purchase. The scope and range of Methamphetamine tests range from $500 to $3,000.

It cannot be disputed that Meth contamination is a real problem. It is naive to think that this issue is restricted to dwellings situated in low socio economic areas in North Island cities. Meth Labs have been discovered in rental properties, affluent houses, garages, motel rooms and business premises increasingly up and down New Zealand.

If you have any concerns get the appropriate protection and get a Meth test. Please contact us and we can provide you with a suitable clause and refer you to suitably qualified Methamphetamine testing agency.