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Fair Go: Christchurch family fight accusations of running a meth lab in their rental

After a year living in a rented house in Christchurch, the Mansfield family were told that the house had been contaminated with methamphetamine.

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We share the Mansfield’s story while showing you how to avoid getting into the same situation. Source: Fair Go

Gayle and Stuart Mansfield and their daughter Ellie told Fair Go they had to thoroughly clean the rental property before they could move in because it was in a bit of a state.

But, when they left the rental and requested their bond back, they ended up at the Tenancy Tribunal in a dispute over the cleanliness and general state of the house.

That’s when the property managers, LOTUS, tested the house for meth and it came up positive – with levels high enough to suggest meth manufacture.

The Mansfields were asked to pay $11,000 in compensation, but they were adamant they would not knowingly live in a meth house with two young children – one of whom had been hospitalised twice during the stay with breathing difficulties and high temperature.

The family then asked a meth expert to check the “negative” meth tests done on the house before they moved in. The expert told the Tenancy Tribunal the test had been incorrectly read as negative, when it was actually positive – positive for meth before they moved in.

The Tribunal agreed with the Mansfields, saying it was more likely the house was contaminated before they moved in, and awarded them compensation and costs.

But, the property managers, LOTUS, and the landlords, disagreed with the Tribunal decision.

They believed they were right to take the case against the Mansfields, as they didn't believe any former tenants were responsible for the meth.

Fair Go advises tenants to always ask landlords and property managers if a meth test has been done.

If the answer is yes, then tenants should check to see whether the testing company and the lab have IANZ accreditation.

If no test has been done – it would cost between $180-220 to get a property professionally tested – for peace of mind.