Property purchasers and vendors are increasingly concerned that the property they are buying or selling may have been used as a “P-Lab” and contaminated with methamphetamine.

A vendor whose property was tenanted prior to sale may not have any idea that their property was being used in this way, especially if it has been vacant for some time.  The odours associated with methamphetamine may have dispersed while the potential health risks and property damage remain.

The potential health risks

The chemicals used in creating methamphetamine are extremely poisonous, are likely to leave behind traces and are harmful to those who come into contact with them.  These traces can linger on, and can be absorbed into the carpets, curtains, furnishings, and dry walls of the property. In the worst case scenarios the damage is irreparable and the property needs to be demolished.

Short term effects include dizziness, nausea, constant illnesses, rashes, fatigue, headaches and trouble breathing.  Long term effects are not confirmed but it has been reported that the residue could increase risks of cancer and cause damage to the kidney and liver.

The Police and Local Council

If a P-Lab is discovered and processed by the Police, they will notify the local Council which will then be required to issue a “Cleansing Order” under the Health Act.  This requires the property owner to have it cleansed, which in the case of methamphetamine requires specialist decontamination.  

The Council will update its database to reflect that the property has been identified as a P-Lab.   Once the property has been decontaminated the Council will update their records to include the decontamination report.  This means that the Land Information Memorandum (“LIM”) Report for the property will forever include details of the P-Lab, even after the Council has received the decontamination report and the property has been declared habitable. 

However, if a methamphetamine-contaminated property is not processed by Police, the local Council may not be aware of the property’s history so this will not be reflected in the LIM Report.

What you can do

If you are considering selling or purchasing a property and are concerned that it may be contaminated with methamphetamine, you should consider having a suitably qualified professional carry out a “meth test” for possible methamphetamine contamination. 

You should also obtain the LIM Report for the property, bearing in mind that this will not always show whether there has been any methamphetamine contamination. 

A concerned purchaser can also include a condition in their Agreement for Sale and Purchase that the property must be meth-tested.  This is advisable where a meth test cannot be completed by either the vendor or purchaser prior to the offer being submitted.