In the report, HNZ acknowledges the zero tolerance approach to methamphetamine contamination has had far-reaching consequences for tenants and families, including the loss of a tenancy and/or possessions, suspension from state housing eligibility, negative effects on credit ratings, and, in extreme cases, homelessness. HNZ says focusing on zero tolerance was wrong and ignored many of the issues that resulted in a tenant requiring access to a state home in the first place.
The publication of the Chief Science Advisor’s report in May this year has provided HNZ with the confidence to raise the threshold for remediation to 15μg/100cm2. No action will be taken where contamination levels are at or below this threshold. Where contamination is above the threshold, HNZ will support these tenants to move into another property.
Like registered Class I Social Landlords, HNZ’s focus is now on the health and wellbeing of their tenants and families, and sustaining a tenancy wherever possible. Tenants who suffer from the health effects of drug addictions will be supported by assisting them to connect with the appropriate drug rehabilitation services, while keeping them in their homes where possible. If they need to move due to high contamination of the property, HNZ will transfer them to another suitable home.
What does this mean for Class 1 Social Landlords?
As you know, the Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill (No 2) amends the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 to address issues related to liability for damage to rental premises caused by a tenant, methamphetamine contamination in rental premises, and the treatment of unlawful residential premises. It enables regulations to be made prescribing maximum acceptable levels of contaminants and methods for carrying out tests.
Some registered Community Housing Providers (CHPs) have aligned their organisation’s methamphetamine policies with those of HNZ. This may mean they are, or soon will be, enforcing a minimum threshold of 15μg/100cm2.
The Community Housing Regulatory Authority has decided not to publish formal guidance on methamphetamine contamination until the Amendment Bill (No 2) has been enacted, and we know what the regulations may look like.
In the meantime, we have previously recommended that registered CHPs implement policies and procedures for the identification and treatment of methamphetamine contamination for properties in the portfolio, including how to keep staff and tenants safe. We also expect registered CHPs to follow our guidance on what it means to be a Social Landlord and wherever possible, help sustain existing tenancies. If your organisation has, or is implementing or amending your methamphetamine policies, please send us a copy so we can update our records.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Martin Farmer, Lead Compliance Advisor on (04) 901 2067, or Toni Regan, Business Advisor on (04) 901 8468.
Community Housing Regulatory AuthorityMinistry of Business, Innovation & Employment