Szabo & Associates News & Updates

The latest News & Updates from Szabo & Associates
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Should meth testing properties be mandatory?

With 64 per cent of homes testing positive for drug residue in the past year, the State Government sets to consider mandatory screening on rental properties contaminated with methamphetamine. According to the Real Estate Institute of Australia, the move to test whether properties have been used as drug labs or have residue from meth use, would be a first for Australia.

Renewed calls for landlords to test for drug residue inside properties came after a recent case where NSW tenant, Veronica Rawlinson, became ill and was forced to abandon her home and possessions:

“I left the property with two cats and a handbag because all of my belongings were contaminated and now have to be triple wrapped in plastic and buried in the ground at the tip.”

Ms Rawlinson, from Nowra, experienced poor health for several months before requesting that the leased four-bedroom home be swabbed for traces of methamphetamine.

Ms Rawlinson said she is now pursuing compensation through the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal and wants to see screening of homes for drug residue made mandatory for NSW landlords.

Compulsory testing will be raised in a review of the Residential Tenancies Act, with a consultation paper expected to be released in the upcoming months. If introduced, any legislative reform is likely to take two years.

What are a tenant’s rights and a landlord’s responsibilities?

Currently, landlords in countries such as New Zealand and the UK are required to carry out testing for any drug residue in their properties and could be found in breach of their obligations should they rent out a contaminated home. The REIWA, however, does not support mandatory screening in either rental properties or properties for sale.

NSW Real Estate Institute CEO, Tim McKibbin, believes an understanding of whether the drug residue poses “a genuine risk” has to take priority over legislating mandatory testing, while REIWA deputy president, Lisa Joyce, stated:

“Drugs on properties is not a new problem to the property industry and it’s a problem we’ve managed very effectively for many years.”

In spite of this, Megan Liddicoat, from Meth Detection Australia, announced that every property that was swabbed on the South Coast by this company had come back positive for drug ice residue.

What should I do as a tenant?

Tenants and buyers should be upfront about asking if a property has been used as a drug lab or if any ‘fit for habitation’ upgrades have been ordered on the property in the past. Under the current industry code of conduct, Phil Payne, Consumer Protection WA property industries director, explained that sellers and property managers must disclose any knowledge of prior meth activity in a property.

If you are the buyer of a residential property or a tenant, and you believe a real estate professional or landlord has failed to disclose information to you, you should seek legal advice from a property dispute professional.

Contact our Property Lawyers in Sydney & NSW

Szabo & Associates, Solicitors can offer expert advice on a wide range of Conveyancing and Property Law issues, including property development and property disputes (both trying to prevent them and helping resolve them). Please call George Szabo on {{CONTACT_US}} or fill in our online contact form.

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