The outcome of a recent drug case has set the legal bar for landlords to deal with drugs being manufactured by tenants, or friends of tenants, in their rental properties.
Housing New Zealand (HNZ) has won a test case seeking more than $180,000 in damages from a drug ring which manufactured methamphetamine in a Napier state house, causing the house to be destroyed.
Nine members of the drug ring, plus the state tenant were found liable for the damage caused by the P lab.
The judgment has broad reaching implications for all landlords.
“P labs are an issue all landlords struggle with. The civil suit Housing New Zealand has won sets a precedent which can be used by private landlords as well,” Housing Minister Phil Heatley says.
“The court has taken a hard line in this case, finding that even the 10th defendant, who brought one container of an industrial solvent used in the methamphetamine manufacturing process to the property, is also liable for all the damage to the home,” he says.
It is hoped the outcome of this case will send a very clear message to anyone involved in manufacturing drugs that not only will they face criminal charges, they will also be liable for the damage to someone else’s property.
“HNZ is now pursuing the damage costs from the parties in the Napier case and will bankrupt those parties if it is in the taxpayer’s best interest,” Heatley says.
Private landlords are questioning how practical it is to get compensation from tenant drug dealers who have trashed their properties.
Housing New Zealand has won a test case for $180,000 in damages from a drug ring that manufactured P in a state house in Napier. The house was so badly contaminated, it had to be demolished.
Andrew King, the vice president of the New Zealand Property Investors Federation, says the judgement has opened the door for private landlords to seek compensation. But he says enforcement of compensation orders is one of the biggest problems landlords face.
Mr King says the process of actually being paid compensation would be easier if the tenants have already been arrested and some of their assets seized as the proceeds of crime.
He says any judgement that punishes criminals and compensates landlords, has to be a good thing.