IN THIS ISSUE Tenancy Tribunal Meth Ruling | NZQA Certification | IANZ Accreditation
TENANCY TRIBUNAL METHAMPHETAMINE RULING
The Tenancy Tribunal recently ruled (31st Jan 2019) on another methamphetamine contamination case in favour of the landlord. Click here to read more.
There have been 27 rulings from the tenancy tribunal this year to date, and we are only 43 days into the year.
If the year continues at this rate, we will see over 230 rulings on Methamphetamine alone from the Tribunal.
However, the year will not continue at this rate, instead, the rate can only increase. With new legislation, the Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill No.2,due to pass early this year, methamphetamine testing becomes law and claims will climb rapidly as all those landlords who stopped testing when the Government announced in June 2018 that Meth Testing was not required, may now be made to test under the new laws.
Once the Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill No.2 passes into law, the New Zealand Standard on Testing and Decontamination of methamphetamine contaminated properties, NZS8510:2017, will be enshrined in legislation, making the acceptable level for contamination 1.5μg/100cm2.
The level of 1.5μg/100cm2 in the Standards relates to manufacture and is derived from the Governments own Crown Research Institute: ESR (Institute of Environmental Sciences Research) 2016 report.
There is sure to be some heated debate amongst parliament about what level they will set for methamphetamine use given the then Chief Science Advisors report in mid 2018 by Peter Gluckman, that stated levels up to 15μg/100cm2 were safe as there had been no “reported” cases of illness arising from contamination.
The Government may attempt to include the level of 15ug/100cm2 for "meth use only" into the legislation, but Meth Xpert NZ have been advised by the Government Department Standards New Zealand that any amendments the Government may wish to make must comply with the Standards and Accreditation Act 2015, this is the same process that the existing Standard NZS8510:2017 went through to become a New Zealand Standard. This is a timely process which means that NZS8510:2017 will be law in its current form for quite some time before any amendments are made.
There are two types of recognised qualifications in the industry. The first one is NZQA Certification. The second one, IANZ Accreditation
The terms Accreditation and Certification are often used interchangeably and occasionally together. Despite the obvious confusion this can cause, the difference between the two distinct quality management processes can be easily explained.
Certification represents a written assurance by a third party of the conformity of a product, process or service to specified requirements. Accreditation, on the other hand, is the formal recognition by an authoritative body of the competence to work to specified standards.
All accreditation standards include the principles of quality management systems, such as those found in the well-recognised ISO 17020:2012 standard. It is the ability to demonstrate technical competence that puts accredited certification on a level above non-accredited certification.
In effect, certification is the third-party endorsement of an individuals training, while accreditation is an internationally recognised independent third-party endorsement of a companies ongoing compliance with relevant standards. International Accreditation New Zealand (IANZ) is the government recognised accreditation body for New Zealand.
Its role is to assess organisations that are providing testing, inspection, calibration and certification services (collectively known as conformity assessment bodies) against internationally recognised standards. In New Zealand, if conformity assessment bodies are the watchmen, then IANZ watches the watchmen.
Another crucial difference between accreditation and certification relates to the activities it covers. Organisations receive accreditation for specific activities, with key technical person signatories, whereas certification relates to an individual and verifies attendance of a training course. If you are looking to verify the effectiveness of a methamphetamine decontamination treatment, it is a requirement within NZS8510:2017 to choose an organisation that has been IANZ Accredited against the testing standard ISO 17020 or 17025 rather than one that has a general quality certification of an NZQA Screening Sampler.
Further, the ISO 17025 testing activities themselves are tightly defined, so it is advisable to check the organisation’s schedule of accreditation closely; one that holds ISO 17025 accreditation for testing and analysis would not necessarily hold the relevance ISO 17020 accreditation for reporting and sampling.
The simple fact is that the only way to know if you have had use or manufacture of methamphetamine in your home is to have it tested by a fully qualified testing company.
This is why only IANZ Accredited Companies’ are allowed to conduct Detailed Site Investigations and Post Decontamination Assessments, as they have been externally validated and vetted by a Government recognised accreditation body to ensure quality and compliance with the law.
Some unqualified companies make statements such as “Independent Laboratory Testing IANZ Accredited.” They may make these statements to attempt to align themselves with IANZ Accredited Laboratories, however, it does not mean that the person conducting the sampling is qualified, only the scientist who analysed the samples at the laboratory is, which by law, they have to be.
Another one is "NZQA Accredited." NZQA Do not offer Accreditation, they offer Certification. Or "IANZ Certification." IANZ do not offer Certification, they offer Accreditation. If you are uncertain of the qualifications of the meth sampling company you are about to use, contact the Methamphetamine Testing Industry Association of New Zealand at their website here.
Meth Xpert NZ Are aware of a matter that is progressing in the courts where this very fact is in question. A pre tenancy check was conducted and the results came back negative. The landlord used anunqualified sampling company to conduct the testing.
The tenant moved out and the same sampling company was then used by the landlord to conduct methamphetamine contamination sampling and the results came back positive with levels that exceededmore than 30μg/100cm2.
The landlord has quite rightly taken the tenant to court for damages and costs.
However, the tenant has raised the vital question: “Was the methamphetamine sampler qualified to conduct testing?”
The matter has been adjourned and Meth Xpert NZ cannot comment on the matter as it is still before the courts, suffice to say that the tenant has a case.
The meth testing company that was used may not have been qualified to test. If so, there is no way to prove that the sampling was conducted complying the law and the New Zealand Standards NZS8510:2017.
Note that for the Tenancy Tribunal, the Burden of Proof lies with the Claimant to establish that methamphetamine contamination occurred during a tenancy. Bear in mind that whilst the burden of proof that applies to Tenancy Tribunal Civil cases is the standard of “more likely than not” where a landlord’s claim against the tenant is tantamount to an allegation of a crime, (Using illegal drugs in a premises) the District Court has held that the case must be proved “almost to the criminal standard.” This means that evidence presented must be close to the criminal Burden of Proof of “Beyond a Reasonable Doubt.”
The New Zealand Standard NZS8510:2017 has been a published Standard since the 29th of June 2017, it has been quoted in case law and rulings repeatedly, and it has been over a year and a half for sampling companies to comply with the New Zealand Standards and attain either qualification; NZQA Certification or IANZ Accreditation.
Therefore, is the evidence gathered by an unqualified meth sampling company Beyond a Reasonable Doubt? The answer, simply, is no. No it is not. It does not comply with the New Zealand Standards and it does not comply with the law.
In the eyes of the law, they are unqualified and, as such, their evidence is subject to questions and challenges that, without the necessary qualifications, cannot stand up in court.
Do not make the same mistake, only use NZQA Certified and IANZ Accredited Companies to conduct Screening Assessments, and only use IANZ Accredited Companies to conduct Detailed Site Assessments, Pre and Post Decontamination Assessments.
Despite having had over 18 months, So far only four methamphetamine sampling companies in New Zealand have attained IANZ Accreditation and Meth Xpert NZ Are very proud to be one of them.
At this stage there is no compiled list of NZQA Certified Companies as the course has only been available since November 2018, however, Meth Xpert NZ are both IANZ Accredited and NZQA Qualified Samplers. It is anticipated that a list of NZQA Certified and IANZ Accredited companies will be available on the Methamphetamine Testing Industry Association (MTIANZ) website in the near future.
If you want to know more about the upcoming new laws around Methamphetamine Testing, Meth Xpert NZ offer training to all our clients that is tailored to your needs. To find out more: