Couple hit with $75,000 P contamination bill

Couple hit with $75,000 P contamination bill

Landlords are increasingly being hit by big repair bills after tenants leave their rental properties contaminated by methamphetamine (P).

One elderly couple thought they'd be protected because they had a property company managing the home and insurance against P contamination, but they're still facing a bill of up to $75,000.

Frances and Bill Thompson are about to celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary. But instead of focusing on the milestone, they're cleaning up their rental property, which was contaminated by P.

"They've stripped the carpet; they've taken the curtains; they've taken all the fancy lights; they've taken all the plugs," says Ms Thompson.

The house had to be stripped by decontaminators. Ms Thompson says the interior will have to be rebuilt.

"We've had our cries; we've had our cries on my birthday," she says.

She began to have concerns about her west Auckland property last June.

She contacted Barfoot and Thompson, who were managing the property, about a man she believed had moved in with the tenant, and later about damage to the door of the garage.

The property managers investigated, but by their own admission, they're not experts on how to identify P use or manufacture.

"It was just on November 6 we came down and Barfoot and Thompson told us that we can't go down there. That's it -- we're not allowed in," says Ms Thompson.

That's because police had established the home where two children lived was contaminated by P.

Decontaminators say high levels were found in the garage, and that there were indications the drug could have been cooked at the property, leaving it toxic.

"They've taken all the ceiling insulation out of the roof; they've taken all the doors," says Ms Thompson.

All up, she reckons the cost of decontamination and repairs could be as high as $100,000.

While she thought insurance would cover everything, her payout was only around $26,000.

"It's a little bit mean," says Ms Thompson.

It's the maximum amount under her policy.

"Everything comes with a price in terms of what has to be done to re-instate the property. But $25,000 is a regular offering that's out on the markets," says Insurance Council chief executive Tim Grafton.

The Insurance Council says insurers are seeing more claims around P contamination, and property experts tell us it's starting to put landlords off renting homes.

"I'm just annoyed that this can happen right in front of our noses," Ms Thompson says.

Although this has affected Mr and Ms Thompson's retirement plans, they say they'll get through it, but want their story to serve as a warning to others.