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Tenant’s drug lab causes $42,000 in damage

By Steven Cross
22 May 2014 | 3 minute read

A Perth rental property that was used as an illegal drug laboratory by the former tenants has racked up over $40,000 worth of damage.

In the first week of January this year, Perth police blitzed known drug labs across the city.

The two-bedroom home rented for more than $800 a week, was located in the leafy and sought-after inner-city suburb of Coolbinia.

The UK-based landlord, who found out the news from a media report, was fortunately covered by her landlord insurance.

“The owner sent us a link to a news story online about police at a lab and said the property belonged to her,” general manager of EBM Insurance Brokers RentCover division Sharon Fox-Slater said.

“Fortunately, this landlord was insured with us, as many landlord insurers don’t cover costs related to clandestine laboratory forensic clean-ups.

“In this case, the forensic clean-up part of the claim was more than $25,000. That didn’t include the cost of replacing a benchtop used in ‘cooking’ drugs and a dishwasher where contaminated utensils had been washed.”

In addition to damage and clean-up costs, RentCover also covered lost rent costs.

“Lost rent was another major part of the claim, totalling more than $12,000," Ms Fox-Slater said. "The tenants were already behind in the rent when police raided the property in January, and the house was untenanted for a couple of months while being cleaned and repaired.”

Ms Fox-Slater said that while there were no guarantees, hiring a professional property manager could reduce the risks of a property being used as a clandestine laboratory.

“Property managers can screen tenants against databases, conduct thorough reference checks and inspect properties regularly while being alert to potential warning signs,” she said.

Danger signs include burned or dead vegetation from “cooking” or burning waste outdoors; kitty litter used to soak up spills; tubing and containers; tenants who block access to certain rooms; smells; sealed windows; and comings and goings at odd times. 

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