Meth-tainted homes

A recent topical issue that we are coming across more and more is that of meth-tainted homes. We have heard of situations where people move in to a home and then suffer health consequences. When investigating further, they find that the house has been contaminated by previous occupants using methamphetamine (“meth”) in the house.

The risk is of concern, not only to persons buying a home, but also to our sharemilkers, contract milkers or farm employees who are moving into another homestead.  In many cases, the farm owner will not be aware of the issue. We recommend that all our clients are vigilant when inspecting any property in which they are to reside, to determine whether there is any evidence that the property has either been used as a meth lab or previous occupants have smoked meth. The signs could be:

  • Unusual chemical smells
  • Stained glass or cookware
  • Chemical stains around sinks, laundries, toilets or stormwater drains
  • Yellow/brown staining of interior floors, walls, ceilings or surfaces

If a property is contaminated, it may be possible for it to be rectified, but decontamination costs can range, depending on the level of the contamination. In many instances, insurance cover will not assist.

There are a number of ways in which testing can be completed. There are consultants who can test an indicative sample at a nominal cost.  If you are in the process of buying a property and are obtaining a building report as a precondition to settlement, it is recommended that you discuss with the building consultant whether they offer such a testing service.

Our farm owners who provide accommodation to sharemilkers or employees could face legal action from a breach of the health and safety legislation if the house provided is contaminated.

If you have concerns about purchasing or moving in to a property that could be contaminated, or if you are a home-owner who wishes to investigate their legal rights if another person has contaminated the property in this respect, please contact one of our solicitors.  We urge you to be vigilant.