21 Sep 2018

Landlords who lost thousands due to flawed meth testing regime want compo

6:35 am on 21 September 2018

Private landlords are calling for some form of compensation after forking out big money on meth tests at their properties.

A close up photo of two hands with gloves on, swabbing within a 100 square centimetre stencil stuck to a wall. By swabbing within that area, testing companies get a sample that corresponds to Ministry of Health guidelines for meth.

Testing a house for meth contamination. Photo: Katy Gosset/RNZ

Hundreds of state housing tenants will be compensated for being wrongly evicted from their homes on the basis of a flawed meth testing regime.

A Housing New Zealand report - published yesterday - acknowledged the agency misused health guidelines that led to an estimated 2500 people being kicked out of about 800 state homes.

But many private landlords were also caught out.

Rebekah Radford and her husband own a rental in Hamilton.

When their tenants moved out they had the place tested for meth so they could ensure the house was safe for new tenants.

After two positive tests and more than $3000 later, the pair called in a specialist cleaner.

But the cleaners botched the job and left the couple with another $37,000 in repair costs from water damage.

"We try not to think about it because it's in the past but it was an extremely stressful time.

"We lost a lot of money and now to know that they've got different scientists in who have changed their minds is pretty devastating really."

It was immensely stressful and a total waste of time, Ms Radford said.

"Their investments, their livelihoods have been severely damaged by these decisions."

She said it would be a lot of money to compensate everyone and she did not expect that could happen.

But some were deserving and it was being "brushed under the carpet".

Hearing that private landlords would not get compensation was a kick in the guts, she said.

The executive director of the Property Investors federation, Andrew King, said there was an expectation on landlords to meet the government's guidelines, despite there being no legal requirement to.

"Clearly there was because the Ministry of Health had set up the guidelines and they were enforced by councils, the tenancy tribunal.

"We were held accountable and if we didn't follows those rules, we would be fined."

The government has done the right thing by cracking down on testing, he said, but he wants them to go further.

"I think it's reasonable that they compensate some of the property owners and landlords that have forked out tens of thousands of dollars in order to clean up their property when it wasn't necessary."

Landlords stung by the testing may rally together in a class action if compensation was not on the cards, he said.

  • Housing NZ to reimburse hundreds evicted on flawed meth testing regime
  • Landlord's $37k meth decontamination nightmare