Landlords install meth monitors to deter P labs
Devices to monitor houses for illegal drugs are starting to appear in Waikato rental properties but agencies say the demand isn't great - yet.
The MethMinder is a smoke detector-sized monitoring and alarm unit which can detect gases given out in the P cooking process and use the digital cell network to send a message to monitors.
One was installed several weeks ago at Amy Maynard-Hassett's rented home in Silverdale.
The 26-year-old and her fellow tenants - mostly family members - had been in the house about four months and were a little surprised to find the monitor was for drugs.
But they had nothing to fear, she said. "It was basically like . . . ‘Install away. You're not going to find anything'."
Later, they asked friends to see if anyone else had a similar monitor in their properties but no-one had.
Auckland-based MethSolutions sales and marketing manager Nicky Stratford said the "highly sensitive" monitor had been on the market for around five years.
"It's very much a deterrent but it also detects," she said.
"Ultimately, at the end of the day, it's about protecting the asset [property] but also protecting the health and safety of the tenants and the future tenants going into the property."
She estimated that about 30 monitors had been installed in the Waikato area and said interest was "growing by the day".
Installation outside Auckland cost around $200 and yearly lease costs started from $440.
Property owners were becoming more aware of the possibility of meth manufacturing in their properties but there had been few requests for monitors so far, Hamilton rental agencies said.
Natasha Metcalfe-Black of L J Hooker Hamilton predicted they would become far more popular and said she would want a meter installed if she were a landlord.
"It's going to be more popular for landlords to ask for that in some of their houses. Maybe especially places like Ngaruawahia and Huntly."
So far the agency had just one request and a monitor was installed in a Raglan property.
But all of Metcalfe-Black's property managers were trained through MethSolutions to take samples for meth in properties.
If they or landlords suspected a problem the registered certified samplers could take tests and send them to a lab.
They also did meth testing for houses on the market but hadn't uncovered any cases of meth use, she said.
And Lodge City Rentals Ltd hadn't had any incidents in their properties either but the possibility was on owners' minds, rentals general manager David Kneebone said.
"It's certainly a concern out there. People are more aware and they're more worried about the possibility of a meth lab ending up in their rental property."
They'd had the odd enquiry about the meth meters but none had been installed, he said.
Owners tended to rely on the agency to select good tenants, and all staff members had had training to help them spot possible signs of drug manufacture.