The methamphetamine scourge in Queensland is not only taking its toll in human misery, but also creating a nightmare for property owners who have to clean up after the clandestine drug manufacturing operations.
It is not cheap to perform a thorough clean, as it can cost up to $30,000 to rid a property of the potentially deadly chemical residue, a task which can require the services of specialist cleaners, often equipped with protective gear and procedures to protect against the harmful chemicals.
These drugs are so potent that they can still be detected after going through a thorough water treatment process.
Here is some information about meth:
Meth. / Ice / Crack use has been an epidemic in Australia for the last 22 years. We are the highest users in the English speaking world.
Meth. is a vapour (not smoke) when it settles it solidifies and locks on to a surface. Normal cleaning will not remove it and it will leach back through a painted surface.
Meth residue is invisible and odourless and will last for years and years, longer than a house will survive.
Australian standard for residue is 0.5 micrograms per square 100cm, this is probably 2 sessions of 1 gram each in the same location in a house.
Do not think it is only in poor socio economic areas, it is everywhere!
Cleaning can be done for smaller contaminations – estimate cost of a 3 bedroom house is $15,000 – $30,000, but this doesn’t include replacing floor-coverings. Note meth labs cannot be effectively cleaned, the entire property would need to be gutted.
Research is showing that meth residue side effects include respiratory problems, headaches, eye and skin irritation, sleep disturbance, behavioural problems in children and can also seriously affect pregnancies, and people with ADHD and asthma.
The chemical fumes that are a by-product of the drug seep into plaster, paint, carpet, the walls, furnishings and the floor, and it is very difficult to remediate — properly decontaminating the house can require completely gutting a property to a shell.
As your agents, we need to ensure you are armed with the most up-to-date knowledge to help protect your investment.
In the RTRA Act, a landlord must “…ensure at the start of the tenancy, the property is fit for the tenant to live in…”
Regardless of its size, the residual contamination arising from illicit drug manufacture presents a serious safety risk to human health and the environment.
Illegal drug manufacturing most often involves the improper storage and use of toxic and corrosive chemicals.
During drug manufacturing, toxic gasses and aerosols are produced. Chemicals used as precursors, and produced as by-products or drug products, can be present in the air and deposited onto surfaces within the home. Contamination persists due to the absorption of chemicals in flooring, walls, drains and ducting, and furnishings and fittings.
Exposure to this residual chemical contamination presents a risk to human health, potentially producing symptoms such as throat irritation, breathing difficulties, headaches, skin conditions, and mental health problems.
In Queensland, chemical contamination from a meth lab site is deemed a public health risk under the Public Health Act 2005.
It is the local government’s responsibility to issue and enforce any Public Health Notice, and it is the property owner’s responsibility to act on and remedy any Public Health Notice.
Property owners may have insurance which will cover the cost of clean ups, but preventing the problem may be achieved by checking references and conducting regular inspections during the tenancy.
Should the use of Methamphetamine be a concern in your property, the most affordable way to screen a rental property is by the lab-analysed Base Composite Screen. The baseline test involves the collection and analysis of several samples, with results returned within 48 hours.
Methamphetamine use in residential homes sadly, is a real issue. Of course we hope none of our owners are faced with a methamphetamine clean-up. However this is another very important reason why Landlord Insurance is vital for a property owner.
Making regular screenings a part of the property management process is the most effective way to ensure both the property and tenant are safe and the landlord is protected from a massive clean up bill.