Do you suspect your tenant is running a drug lab?

Rachelle Trayer Chu

The manufacture and consumption of the illicit drug “ice” is increasing rapidly across the country.

According to the latest figures from the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, between August 2016 and August 2017 more than eight tonnes of crystal methamphetamine – “ice” were shot up, smoked or snorted.

Nearly 600 clandestine drug labs, known as “clan labs”, were detected in Australia- 234 of them in Queensland, according to criminal intelligence reports.

The Real Estate Institute NSW says latest data shows some 10 per cent of properties in New South Wales contain meth and ice residue above the Australian guideline levels. That equates to at least one house in every street is contaminated and potentially uninhabitable.

As the Minister for Justice Michael Keenan pointed out: “Nationally, around two-thirds of the clan labs detected were in residential locations, posing significant risks to surrounding communities as they are used to covertly manufacture illicit drugs or their precursors, with many of the chemicals used both hazardous and corrosive in nature.”

And this is becoming a major problem for landlords. Not only with the danger of explosions or fires, but the extensive cost in cleaning up the contamination of rental properties.

CHU, Australia’s leading strata insurer, has a list of what to look for if you suspect your tenant is running a “clan lab”:

  • Windows covered, blacked out or curtains drawn
  • Unfriendly inhabitants who appear secretive about their activities, display paranoid or odd behaviour e.g. watching cars suspiciously as they drive by
  • Inconsistent behaviour – e.g. always home or never home
  • Frequent visitors, at odd hours, for short periods of time, maybe parked away from the house with one person waiting in the car
  • Premises have been outfitted with expensive security with no reason.
  • Chemical odours such as solvents, acids, cat urine (without the cats), and liquorice
  • Garbage containing chemical containers, bottles, metal drums, pots, wiring, soil or PVC piping. Boxes and containers that may have labels spray painted over.
  • Residents setting out their garbage in another neighbour’s collection area or waiting for the arrival of the garbage truck before running their garbage to the kerb.
  • Residents never putting out any garbage for pick up.

If you do suspect a lab is being run in your property alert the police to handle it.