A New Lynn landlord says methamphetamine-related damage by a tenant was so bad she had to take out a mortgage and delay her retirement to pay for the cleanup.
The tenant, Catherine Anderson, has now been ordered by the Tenancy Tribunal to pay $11,050 to Bharti Budhia, the owner of the Golf Rd property.
The level of contamination in one of the rooms was six times higher than the new threshold recommended in a landmark report last year.
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Anderson and her son moved into a detached unit at the property in May 2016, the tribunal’s ruling said. A neighbour complained that people were coming and going from the house at all hours of the night – which the landlord later confirmed after installing security cameras in the driveway.
Police were able to identify individuals visiting the house in the footage. The guests and their vehicles had strong associations with meth use and manufacturing, the ruling said.
A police report presented at the tribunal hearing said, of those identified in the security footage, “one has since died of a drug overdose and a number of others are in prison”.
Another person who used the property as a bail address had since entered Odyssey house, a treatment centre for drug addiction.
After Budhia – who also lived on the property – raised concerns with Anderson, she ended the tenancy in September 2018.
Testing done that month found traces of methamphetamine were present in all rooms of the house. The kitchen had a reading of 99 mcg/100cm2 and a bedroom had a reading of 58 mcg/100cm2.
That was well above the “acceptable” level of 15mcg recommended by former Chief Science Adviser Sir Peter Gluckman in a report last year.
That report said a reading of higher than 30mcg was indicative – but not definite evidence – of a meth lab.
The adjudicator in the case said that on the balance of probabilities, Anderson allowed the property to be used for either smoking or manufacturing meth.
Budhia, who has been asked for comment, told the tribunal she had taken out a loan to pay for decontamination and repair of the detached unit at the $1.1m property.
“The cost of decontamination has been raised by them through a mortgage, which their son helps them repay,” the tribunal order said. “They have had to delay their retirement.”