Meth in Brisbane Rental Properties – What are your obligations as a Landlord?

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Meth in Brisbane Rental Properties – What are your obligations as a Landlord?

The use and manufacture of methamphetamines (“meth”) is creating a nightmare for property managers and owners who have to clean up after covert drug manufacturing operations. 

During the manufacturing process of illicit drugs such as ‘meth’, toxic gasses and aerosols are produced. Chemicals can be present in the air and then contamination remains due to the absorption of chemicals in surfaces such as flooring, walls and fittings. These drugs are so potent that they can still be detected after going through a thorough water treatment process.    

Exposure to this residual chemical contamination can potentially result in illness, with symptoms such as throat irritation, breathing difficulties, headaches, skin conditions, and mental health problems. In Queensland, under the Public Health Act 2005, chemical contamination of this type is deemed a public health risk. 

Tenants have obligations, and to manufacture illicit substances in a rental property is a breach of the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008 (RTRA Act), for which termination of tenancy and compensation for costs can be sought. Naturally it is also a criminal offence! 

The RTRA Act clearly specifies: 

(1) The tenant may use the premises only as a place of residence or mainly as a place of residence or for another use allowed under a special term.

(2) The tenant must not  

(a) use the premises for an illegal purpose; or 

(b) cause a nuisance by the use of the premises; or 

Examples of things that may constitute a nuisance  

  • using paints or chemicals on the premises that go onto or cause odours on adjoining land 
  • causing loud noises 
  • allowing large amounts of water to escape onto adjoining land  

(c) interfere with the reasonable peace, comfort or privacy of a neighbour of the tenant; or 

(d) allow another person on the premises to interfere with the reasonable peace, comfort or privacy of a neighbour of the tenant. 

(Standard Term 21 Tenants use of premises – ss 10 and 184, Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008, current as at 1 July 2021, p 45) 

 

There are also other clauses of a lease that may be found to have been breached.   

As a Landlord, your obligation under the RTRA Act states 

(1) At the start of the tenancy, the lessor must ensure—

(a) the premises are clean; and 

(b) the premises are fit for thetenantto live in; and 

(c) the premises and inclusions are in good repair; and 

(d) thelessoris not in breach of a law dealing with issues about the health or safety of persons using or entering the premises; and 

(e) the premises and inclusions otherwise comply with anyprescribed minimum housing standardsapplying to the premises or inclusions. 

(2) While the tenancy continues, thelessor 

(a) must maintain the premises in a way that the premises remain fit for thetenantto live in; and 

(b) must maintain the premises and inclusions in good repair; and 

(c) must ensure any law dealing with issues about the health or safety of persons using or entering the premises is complied with; and 

(d) if the premises include a common area—must keep the area clean; and 

(e) must ensure the premises and inclusions otherwise comply 

(Standard Term 25 Standard of premises, Lessor’s obligations s185, Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008, current as at 1 July 2021, p 47)

 

Clean-up costs are expensive.  The task of eliminating a property of potentially deadly chemical residue often requires the services of specialist cleaners who are equipped with protective gear and procedures to protect against the harmful chemicals. 

The tenant’s bond is unlikely to cover the costs if a full clean-up is required. A QCAT application may be made to seek compensation from the tenant, or landlord insurance may cover the costs. 

What can you do as a Landlord? 

  • Have a comprehensive Landlord Insurance Policy 
  • Ensure your property manager is performing thorough routine inspections and detailed property application processing, eg checking references. 

 

The days of property managers being ‘just rent collectors’ is long-gone. The role of a property manager has become complex and requires specialist skills and training, and the right company can make all the difference between a profitable investment and an utter nightmare. 

Beyond Property Management are committed to making that difference, for you.  

To talk to a property manager who really understands your needs, call Heather Jopson, Principal and Founder of Beyond Property Management Brisbane, on 07 3188 7651 or email: admin@beyondpm.com.au  

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