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More Than 50% Of P-Labs In Rental Properties

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Brian Dalley
Brian Dalley

More than 50% of P-Labs discovered in New Zealand have been in rental properties, how can this be you might ask?

Surely property managers are meant to be doing regular inspections of rental properties? 

Yes, and in most cases they are, but by rights, tenants must be given 48 hours notice before any check of the property, which gives them more than enough time to move the lab to another location. 

I have read that the gases have a sort of a tangy smell but being faint, I expect a property manager would not necessarily notice and am sure such a smell could be temporally masked by another, little wonder ‘P’ manufacture is running rampant in society.

So were do we go from here, and who is ultimately responsible for making sure all that can be done to eliminate the problem is being done?

This really is a serious matter, landlords of the affected properties not only face huge decontamination costs, but the law also requires police to report the property concerned to local councils. In the majority of instances a permanent public record of the ‘P-Lab’ and contamination is then made on the LIM and Property report so it is the landlord’s best interests to do what they can. 

A ‘P-Lab’ can seriously devalue a property, not forgetting the costs involved with decontamination, which can run into the tens of thousands of dollars. This is on top of the consequential losses from missed and reduced future rental income. 

Some properties can’t be saved and have to be demolished and with ‘P’ being extremely volatile there is also risk of fire which could also result in total loss, the likes of which may not be covered by insurance. This is after all an unlawful activity.

Being potentially disastrous for investors, I started searching for a possible solution and discovered a smart device called the “MethMinder” developed here in New Zealand, a silent alarm system guaranteed to detect the manufacture of methamphetamine at a property.

This clever little device, which communicates wirelessly via our national mobile network, monitors the surrounding atmosphere within which it is placed.  Fitted with a number of anti tamper alarms, the device is completely self-sufficient, no cabling required. 

The property is continuously monitored back at the MethMinder control room, with regular diagnostic and environment status reports sent and logged irrespective of any occurrence. In the event of the alarm being activated, the monitoring team will notify the landlord’s listed contact and the police if required. This will significantly reduce or even eliminate the contamination of the property.

Tenants are informed from the outset, that the property is monitored by a MethMinder, along with the consequences and charges they will face if they tamper with the device.

In this way a MethMinder protected property is a very effective deterrent to tenants even thinking of cooking ‘P’ in the first place.

When Geoff Dye the business Development Manager was asked if the device had detected anyone cooking P he answered;

“Not yet because it’s such a good deterrent, people would have to be pretty silly to give it a crack,” he said. ”However we have had a few interesting cases and when confronted, the tenants vacated very smartly.”

“When you’re interviewing people you let them know that this property has the alarm and they will be detected and then the bad tenants tend to default at that stage.”

“It also helps deter coercion of otherwise good tenets from having your property used to make ‘P’ by others. This is a growing problem and can happen to the best of families for many reasons.”

As the Auckland Regional Public Health Service advises, no decontamination procedure can guarantee absolute safety; it is up to prospective tenants to satisfy themselves that the property has not been used as a ‘P’ lab. 

For Property Investors, I can only recommend you take the time to assess your exposure to this potentially devastating problem and make sure you are doing everything possible to protect your assets.

Brian Dalley is a leading Property Consultant | former NZMBA Mortgage Broker, and Real Estate Agent.  You can read more of his views and opinions on his website  

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