A recent Tenancy Tribunal ruling held a landlord to account for unknowingly renting a methamphetamine-contaminated property to a tenant.

The tenants rented the methamphetamine-contaminated property for just a few months from the landlord.  The tenants vacated the property and made a complaint to the Tenancy Tribunal.

The tenants presented evidence of the health implications and contamination to their belongings caused by living in a property that was contaminated with methamphetamine. 

The Tenancy Tribunal acknowledged that the landlord had “no actual knowledge of the contamination” however still ruled that the landlord must pay to the tenants $7,525. 

This included a refund of the rental paid over the course of the tenancy, as well as the costs of replacing the tenant’s ruined belongings. 

This decision highlights the need for a landlord to consider obtaining a methamphetamine report before entering into every new tenancy. 

What else can a landlord do to protect their property in respect of methamphetamine?

  • When preparing a new tenancy agreement, we recommend that a landlord include a provision that allows the landlord to carry out regular methamphetamine contamination testing during the course of the tenancy.  If a landlord has a property manager involved with their rental property, they should consider making arrangements with them for regular methamphetamine testing and what will happen in the event that contamination is found.
  • We also recommend that the tenancy agreement set out termination rights for the landlord in the event that contamination is found.
  • Using good tenant screening practises;
  • Being observant of suspicious activities by their tenants; and
  • Staying involved with the tenancy, for example by conducting regular property inspections. 

Lindsey Mills
Senior Legal Executive
Wellington