METH CLEANING COMPANIES: 10 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW

There is a myriad of companies offering methamphetamine decontamination / meth cleaning & solutions, and within this group you will see a broad spectrum of methods. The reason for this variety is that the previously un-regulated industry has only recently received the benefit of a standard offering some direction for testers and cleaning / decontamination companies.[1]

Some meth cleaning companies employ the triple wash method, some employ the water removal method (incorporating fogging and foaming), others remove contents to avoid cleaning and some use new age technologies. The suitability of any particular method will depend upon your level of contamination (and whether it involved clandestine laboratory),[2] the surfaces / intricacies of your property and the requirements of your insurer (if applicable). These factors are equally relevant if you are considering buying a property that has been remediated.

  1. Ensure the meth cleaning company complies with the standards (NZS 8510). Check that the meth cleaning company follow the standards as someone purchasing your property (or renting down the line), may trip you and leave you short-handed when challenged on the cleaning (and/or testing) that took place. A homeowner should be able to produce a clearance certificate / report comprising of the pre testing, the decontamination process & the post testing to validate. Make sure the company has scrutinised the testing (undertaken independently) ensuring that it is sufficient.
  2. Check the track record. In a non-insurance situation, if the meth cleaning company does not come recommended from a trusted source, make sure that you can see testimonials or proof that they are affiliated with insurers for peace of mind.
  3. Make sure the meth cleaning company is independent from the company that conducted the contamination-level testing. This is crucial as otherwise the testing company may have a vested interest in producing favourable results for the decontamination company (and vice versa).
  4. Your insurer may have various requirements that you do not know about. Insurance companies also differ on what they will cover for and applicable exclusions (i.e. lost rental for an investment property). If you have a rental make sure that you have your 3 monthly property inspections and to avoid a failed claim. Meth screening between tenancies is a worthwhile exercise too.
  5. There is no industry association, government led qualification (as yet – the standards recommend the development of one by NZQA) or regulatory body. When companies say that they are “accredited” it may mean that they have undertaken a private training. For the best pitcure regarding decontaminating a meth house, the track record and recommendations speak more volumes than any “accreditation.”
  6. Read the fine print. Decontamination companies will contract out of the majority of any damage associated with the process. Also check the guarantee that they will go back and finish the job if the property isn’t below the levels.
  7. Some companies use a lot of water in the process. If you have an older property or surfaces that are less forgiving to water, you should ensure that you have been fully disclosed about any remediation that may be required after the p contamination testing and meth cleaning is complete.
  8. Technology should be validated. Companies using technology instead of the other methods above should be able to show you that the process is validated and proven when decontaminating a meth house. This should be done by an independent body such as ESR.
  9. Meth can seep back through paint overtime. If the property you are looking at (or own) has newly painted surfaces, then this may mask un-cleaned methamphetamine underneath. If you do receive a recommendation to paint a structural item, make sure that the paint encapsulates the meth so that it cannot re-surface after the meth cleaning.
  10. The quoted cost is not everything. This is linked in to points 1, 6 & 7. There should be a clear disclosure on any added costs in the process (i.e. reporting, independent testing etc.). Your insurer / claim adjuster (if applicable) will provide you direction on this point, but be aware of the fact that you will need to replace carpet, redecorate and potentially cover any further costs associated with the process.

[1] See NZS8510. The enforceability of this standard is yet to be tested. However the newly included Residential Tenancies Bill will offer some scope once it reached parliament. It is more of a “recommended steps” for the cleaning industry rather than a code.

[2] Clandestine laboratories involve the use of various chemicals that are far more dangerous to health than mere “use” levels.