Landlords copping $100,000 bills when drugmakers move in

Landlords are left with a hefty bill if their property is involved in a drug bust.
Landlords are left with a hefty bill if their property is involved in a drug bust.

LANDLORDS face being hit by clean-up bills as high as $100,000 when tenants use their properties for manufacturing illegal drugs like ice.

While the tenants often face criminal action, it is the owners who are among the innocent victims when they have to go through a costly process to make their property habitable.

If a person enters a crystal methamphetamine lab before it has been properly cleaned, contamination becomes a real and serious health risk.

One Clarence Valley landlord found out first-hand just how much it could affect her life after a drug bust revealed her tenants were allegedly involved in the manufacturing of ice.

Despite never having any association with the drug, the lengths she had to go to for her house to be declared safe for habitation left her about $30,000 out of pocket. According to the Australian Crime Commission's latest Illicit Drug Data Report, 98 clandestine laboratories were detected in New South Wales in 2013-14, with increases in rural detections.

Meth Lab Cleaners Australia managing director Josh Marsden said out of all forensic clean-ups, meth labs were the most toxic and took the longest amount of time to complete.

"Sometimes you've got to strip the whole house back," Mr Marsden said.

"Most to all of chemicals they use are carcinogenic and the by-products they spit out are generally a chemical steam. It penetrates everything - timber, carpet and sticks to every surface. Some jobs can cost up to $100,000."

It is for this reason Mr Marsden believes it should be mandatory for property owners to test for traces of methamphetamine-related chemicals at end of every tenancy.

Mr Marsden said roughly 65% of meth labs were found in rental properties.

"They wouldn't put a lab in the house if they knew it was going to be tested," he said. "If it was positive the liability would pass on to the tenant to pay for the clean-up."

"It's been quite overwhelming," the Clarence Valley landlord said.

"I don't think its something that most people would think about when they begin to lease out a property; that it would become a drub lab. I definitely didn't."

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