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Meth testing in a property - a vendor's perspective

Published: 4th November 2016

Author: Scott Chamberlain, RMY Legal

Published in: Property e.Speaking | Issue #23

Following on from the last edition’s article on P-contamination in residential property, we take the opportunity to focus on this issue from a seller’s perspective.

It’s now common in sale and purchase agreements to include a clause which allows a purchaser to test for methamphetamine (known also as P) contamination. This clause allows the purchaser to cancel the agreement if the property shows signs of methamphetamine use or manufacture.

The Ministry of Health’s guidelines (click here to read them) state the P-contamination level that is considered unsafe.

Standards of testing vary between testing companies; many of the tests simply show a ‘present’ or ‘not present’ result. There is no way to know if those tests exceed the Ministry’s safe level or not.

Let’s think of an example: Your family holiday home is rented out a few times a year, and then you decide to sell it. The agreement is subject to a meth test. The test comes back positive, and your purchaser cancels the agreement.

It seems overly harsh in this situation to lose the sale, but this is the reality of a standard meth test clause in a contract. The meth test may not be laboratory tested by professionals working towards a set of unit standards.

If your purchaser insists on a meth test, don’t rely on a standard meth test clause. It’s better to talk with us beforehand to get a more rigorous meth test clause that must adhere to the Ministry of Health’s guidelines on contamination levels. It may help you save your sale.

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