The number of meth lab detections in rental properties is rising both in Australia and worldwide, according to REIQ.
A report by the Australian Crime Commission found that between 2010 and 2011 Queensland recorded the highest number of clandestine (meth) laboratories, at 293 – a number far exceeding those found in WA (171), NSW (87) and Victoria (63).
This is a major problem for landlords, REIQ’s Amanda Haack writes, as labs can cause significant damage to properties. Additionally, property managers and investors who self-manage their properties can be put at risk personally and professionally if correct response measures are not taken.
Ms Haack writes that as the rate of lab detection in Queensland and other states grows exponentially, property managers should be on the lookout for clues.
“I have come to understand that illegal drug activity is not exclusive to outlying suburbs, and I've learned some of the indicators that most would overlook, despite them being a blaringly obvious clue to identifying a meth lab,” she wrote.
REIQ CEO Anton Kardash said that at at a recent REIQ property management conference, the Queensland Police educated property managers on the not-so-obvious indicators to be aware of during routine inspections.
"Some of the indicators included a tenant having pool chemicals and no pool, unusual chemical smells or extreme water usage," he said.
"Property managers were also advised to be aware of new rental applicants trying to avoid background checks or a new tenant willing to pay rent with cash in advance.
"The associated risks of such operations include material damage to the property and also the toxic risk to human life, particularly young children, and in severe cases, the consequences can be fatal," he said.
In the event of an allegation of negligence, it is reccommended that property managers should have documented proof of regular property inspections, and take action quickly.
In February, WA Today reported that a home in Perth had to be fully demolished due to the extent of damage caused by drug manufacturing.