P-Labs are a growing concern for owners of rental properties and new home buyers.

There have been several cases in the news where police have detecting P-Labs in rental properties or where new home buyers have suffered from health concerns because unknown to them their property was previously a drug lab or a P users home.  A  NZ Herald article last weekend reported “A specialist clean-up company [is] now being called to an average of one contaminated house a day”.

P is a street name for the drug Methamphetamine, a very toxic chemical. The vapour clings to surfaces and people who come in contact with those surfaces can ingest the meth through their skin or by touching contaminated surfaces then touching their mouth, nose or eyes. The short-term effects of exposure to high concentrations of chemical vapours can lead to health issues such as, speediness, loss of appetite, inability to concentrate, itchy skin, dry eyes, irritability, paranoia, colds, breathing difficulty, sinus problems, headaches, nervousness, anxiety, acne and confusion. 

Clean-up costs can be exorbitant running into the tens of thousands and while the home is contaminated and clean-up is underway no one can occupy the house.  For landlords this means loss of rent and for home owners it means paying rent somewhere else, while still trying to meet mortgage payments.   The same NZ Herald article told of a “Rented house [that] had to be demolished and a layer of topsoil removed from its section because the property was so badly contaminated by a secret P lab”.

There are on-going concerns too, when police find a lab they notify the local council and the information is recorded on the property's Land Information Memorandum report.  Reselling the home and re-tenanting the home can be difficult.

To avoid ending up in this situation, add toxicity testing to your house pre-purchase check list.  A test can be done for around $100 for a standard 3 bedroom home. 

Landlords can have MethMinders installed which will detect the vapours from P cooking and send an alert to the control room of the company monitoring it. Furthermore a MethMinder acts as a deterrent to tenants who may consider cooking or using P in your property.  Under the Crombie Lockwood Personal Lines Facility with NZI, a discount is available on a MethMinder.  Having a MethMinder professionally installed, maintained and monitored will also give you further entitlement under your landlord's insurance policy.   If you are unsure what you’re covered for or require more information please contact your broker for advice.