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Ominous new real estate trend triggers urgent warning: “Get tested”

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A real estate agent has revealed a “major issue” affecting the Australian property market that could have devastating and costly consequences for both tenants and landlords.

Perth agent Corey Adamson, director of the agency in Wembly, said methamphetamine-contaminated homes had become “more noticeable over the last two years” and admitted the number of homes showing positive results for meth was “incredible”. .

“I've seen more positive meth tests being done in homes than ever before,” he explained in a video on TikTok, suggesting that an influx of rental properties being sold could be the reason for the increase in tests being conducted.

He advised Australians in the market for a new property to consider a meth test, which can check the property for contamination levels, before purchasing – and while the cost can range from hundreds to a few thousand dollars, it is comparatively so the costs associated with repairs and cleaning, which can be astronomical.

Corey Adamson, real estate agent and director of The Agency, Wembly talks to the camera. Corey Adamson, real estate agent and director of The Agency, Wembly talks to the camera.

Corey Adamson, real estate agent and director of the agency in Wembly, Perth, advises all property buyers to consider purchasing a meth test. Source: TikTok/coreytherealestateagent

Clint Hampson of Forensic Pathways, a cleaning company in Perth, told Yahoo News Australia that full decontamination could cost “between $7,000 and $100,000”. He said “almost 95 percent of the properties we test are positive,” adding that this has been an apparent problem for a decade.

“The cleaning process can actually cause additional damage to the interior of the property,” he explained. New carpets, furniture and paint are often required throughout.

“You don’t want to buy a house, have it tested later, and then find out you have all this work to do — and some insurance companies won’t cover the cost,” he added. “If I ever bought a house, I would definitely do a test.”

Contamination poses significant health risks for tenants

While landlords incur huge costs, tenants are also affected by the harmful toxins sometimes left behind by previous tenants. Adamson said the substance had the potential to “leave through the air conditioning, floors and carpets” and contaminate any room.

Last year, a family was evicted from their rental property in Queensland after becoming “disgustingly ill”, 7News reported at the time. The family of six said dangerous levels of deadly methamphetamine residue were found throughout the property, with tests revealing worrying levels of toxicity. Queensland Police previously reported a “significant increase” in the size of drug labs across the state.

“The risk of contamination is real, even if you don’t manufacture the drug. Long-term exposure can cause more serious complications,” Hampson told Yahoo.

Tenants are advised to monitor for worsening symptoms such as insomnia, anxiety and behavioral changes in children. Skin rashes and headaches are also common.

Ariel view of houses in an Australian suburb. Ariel view of houses in an Australian suburb.

Meth contamination affects both landlords and tenants across Australia. Source: Getty

Calls for legislation to solve the “big” problem

Earlier this year, former Ray White chief auctioneer Phillip Parker called for new legislation that could help standardize testing for drug contamination and make them more affordable and available. He agrees the presence of methamphetamine in Australian households is a “major problem”.

Currently, there are “both low-cost methods with high failure rates” and “expensive, meaningful testing methods,” said Emily Sim, CEO of Ray White Property Management.

“Drug contamination is widespread, unfortunately particularly in rental properties. Incredibly, the cost of decontamination is up to $200,000,” Parker told Sunrise. “In some houses the floors, ceilings and walls have to be torn out. It’s a pretty massive undertaking for the owners.”

His recommendation, and that of Ray White as a whole, is that properties should be inspected before the tenant moves in and also when the tenant moves out.

Anyone looking to purchase a property is asked to request a meth test in addition to a building and pest report. When you buy a contaminated home, it's often a case of “buyer beware,” which can result in the buyer paying nothing.

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