Housing NZ's meth testing is overzealous - Drug Foundation

Housing NZ's meth testing is overzealous - Drug Foundation

Housing New Zealand is being accused of falsely evicting tenants and wasting taxpayers' money on unnecessary meth decontamination.

The Drug Foundation says the country has been sucked in by the methamphetamine testing industry and the threshold for a fail test is far too low.

"Make no mistake, [meth decontamination companies] aren't in it for the public good; they're in it for their own profits," says Ross Bell from the Drug Foundation.

Mr Bell says Housing New Zealand has been suckered in and is evicting tenants unfairly.

"I think that it's deliberate," he says. "They know the truth [and] they're using the lies to kick people out.

"They like to be seen as tough, and I think they need to free up waiting lists as well."

Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett denies that.

"There's absolutely no evidence I've seen of that at all," she says.

In 2013 to 2014 there were only 28 state homes that were found to be contaminated. The following year that rose to 229. For the past year, that ballooned to almost 700 properties, and as of March there were 182 state homes empty because of meth.

"Housing New Zealand is evicting people based on false tests and are sending families into cars or onto the street, and are absolving themselves of any responsibility," Mr Bell says.

"I'm concerned if we've got houses that are empty that don't need to be," Ms Bennett says.

And the scientist who helped design the guidelines says they're for Breaking Bad-style labs, not homes where meth has only been smoked.

"The smoking scenario is way down the bottom end of the risk scale. It's very similar to smoking tobacco that will leave residue on the wall as well," says Dr Nick Kim.

He says that's similar to the residue that is found on bank notes.

"The irony is we've been ripping out walls in New Zealand or telling people to leave their homes for less meth that what is on the banknotes in their pockets."

A Government-backed taskforce is looking into overhauling the guidelines and is meeting for the first time tomorrow. But there are concerns it's full of people with a vested interest.

"We have the clean-up industry who are on this committee making decisions that will benefit them and it will help push the profits up for them," Mr Bell says.

And if the review leads to more houses being available, there's never been a greater demand.