When meth is manufactured or used, a wide range of poisonous,
explosive, and extremely flammable chemicals are used. These
chemicals, fumes and by-products can be spilt on surfaces, carpets,
curtains and ventilation systems, and poured down drains
contaminating the structure and fabric of the building.
Exposure to chemicals found in meth labs can have various
short-term and long-term effects on the health of the occupants. As
a result this impacts on the value or marketability of a property
to potential purchasers or tenants.
When a meth lab is discovered by Police, a notification is
usually provided to the local Council who in turn raise a
requisition on the Council's Land Information Memorandum (LIM)
database. Under the Health Act 1956, a Cleansing Order is issued by
the Council to the owner of the property and a validation report
plus other relevant information must be provided to the Council
before the Cleansing Order can be discharged.
It is estimated that the proportion of meth labs found by the
Police is 5–10% of the total amount in operation at one time
and that in 2009, 75% of meth labs reported were located in rental
properties. Therefore there is a strong chance that many home
owners have given into temptation and replaced the carpet and
repainted the walls in an attempt to hide the signs of meth use in
order to preserve the property's value. This is a short term
fix and does not resolve the issue as the highly toxic residues
Caution must be raised, particularly if the purchaser has a view
to tenanting the property in the future, as it is a breach of a
landlord's obligations to tenant a contaminated premises.
Therefore, if undetected the costs of remediating the property may
fall on the purchaser.
As a prospective purchaser, there are a number of practical
things that can be done to reduce the risk that the property you
are about to purchase was a meth lab, which include.
Find out whether the property has been used as a rental
Contact the local Council and review the LIM report as part of
pre-purchase due diligence (however there may be a chance that the
local Council records may not be up to date)
Ask the vendor and real estate agent about the property's
history; specifically asking whether they are aware of any meth
related activity. Legal remedies may be available where
misrepresentation is proven.
Ask the vendor if the property has been monitored for meth
manufacture by a third party agency (similar to an alarm
Inspect the property for tell-tale marks. However, it is very
hard to detect when the property has new carpet and a fresh coat of
Contact the neighbours to inquire about the property's
Get the property tested (prior to making an offer of purchase
or as a condition).
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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