Rockingham homeowner calls for compulsory no meth proof for homes on market

Chloe Fraser and Kate CampbellSound Telegraph
There is an increasing trend of getting properties tested for meth contamination prior to purchase. Pictured is Meth Screen technician Ryan Lord.
Camera IconThere is an increasing trend of getting properties tested for meth contamination prior to purchase. Pictured is Meth Screen technician Ryan Lord. Credit: Justin Benson-Cooper

A homeowner in the Rockingham area is calling on the State Government to make it compulsory for sellers to show proof properties were free of methamphetamine contamination before hitting the market.

It comes after she discovered a home she was looking to purchase tested positive for high amounts of meth residue.

Recently relocating from regional WA, Ronnie, who requested her surname not be printed, said she chose to have her favoured home meth-tested after she was advised the property had a history with meth use.

Despite being told the house had been chemically cleaned and was safe for habitation, Ronnie said the agent and the vendor were unable to supply proof the property was contamination free.

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Concerned about health risks, Ronnie had the home independently tested with methamphetamine residue experts Meth Screen, which found four rooms in the home had more than 28 times above the safe Australian standard.

“I’m fortunate I chose to have the property re-tested,” she said.

“Agents and some cleaning companies are saying properties are clean when they’re anything but.

“The Government, real estate agents and landlords selling and or renting properties need to take the methamphetamine residue problem seriously and educate themselves on this issue.

“It can affect anyone, irrespective of their financial situation and where they’re looking to buy.”

Testing firm Meth Screen recently revealed Rockingham was one of the most common call-out locations for testing.

Since January this year, Meth Screen has screened more than 112 homes in WA with 53 per cent of properties testing positive to meth residue.

Meth Screen chief executive Ryan Matthews said many people did not realise the drug’s residue hung around for “decades”.

“You don’t know what goes on behind closed doors or how a property was being used before you,” he said.

“Without physical evidence it’s impossible to determine if drugs were cooked or smoked in (the property).

“Australia has clear guidelines on the safe levels of methamphetamine residue allowed in a property ... anything above 0.5 of a microgram is considered unacceptable and not fit for occupancy.”

He said legislation was needed to make the issue black and white — that properties could not be rented or sold if an unsafe level of meth residue was identified.

There are currently real estate industry calls for the State Government to legislate a mandatory system similar to the zero-tolerance approach in New Zealand, where every property needs a decontamination clearance certificate.

Commerce and Industrial Relations Minister Bill Johnston said meth contamination in rental properties was one of several issues being considered in the Government’s review of the Residential Tenancies Act.

A Health Department spokeswoman said an “interim management system” for illicit drug smoke contamination, including meth, was being finalised, where homes would be reported to the department by police and the option of “voluntary re-mediation” for low-level contamination from smoking rather than from manufacturing.

REIWA president Damian Collins said REIWA supported the Government’s stance of no plans to make meth testing mandatory. He urged owners to review their insurance policies to be aware of the risks.

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