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Hamilton landlord starts from scratch after rental used as a meth lab

Rebecca Clewlow's rental became a meth lab which was busted by police in early October.

MARK TAYLOR/Stuff

Rebecca Clewlow’s rental became a meth lab which was busted by police in early October.

Rebecca Clewlow’s retirement haven was converted to a meth lab.

The Hamilton woman, who is in her 50s, bought the 1950s two-bedroom Clarkin Road house, about 15 years ago.

The hardworking midwife felt “violated” when she discovered her nest egg had been trashed by a trio of drug makers. The 1950s bungalow was supposed to be a cosy retreat for when she retired, not a clan lab.

A home behind the trashed rental is where her parents will live when they all decide to move back to the city from Taupiri.

Since owning the property Clewlow has rented it successfully, and her daughter called it home for a few years before the most recent tenant moved in a couple of years ago

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“He was sick and got behind on the rent, and we worked through that.

“And then I got a phone call to say it [the house] had been busted as a P Lab. He wasn’t there, so he obviously just let his mates use it or let someone use it, I don’t know.”

Detective Inspector Graham Pitkethley said search warrants were executed at residential properties in Hamilton and Ngāruawāhia on October 7.

Police seized methamphetamine clan lab material and equipment, methamphetamine, and cash.

Three people were arrested, a 50-year-old Hamilton man, a 48-year-old Ngāruawāhia man, and a 48-year-old Hamilton woman.

The garage has been condemned after being used as part of a meth lab operation

MARK TAYLOR/Stuff

The garage has been condemned after being used as part of a meth lab operation

They are facing charges relating to the manufacture for the sale and supply of methamphetamine.

Clewlow said her tenant, who wasn’t arrested, and denied any knowledge of the lab, he said he was at a friend’s place in Cambridge when the police bust happened.

“But the report says it is long term. They said this hasn’t happened overnight, this isn’t one time.”

The man no longer lives at the Clarkin Road address. However, since the bust the house has been further vandalised – with “snitch”, “pig” and other terms spray-painted all over the outside in red paint. Thick paint was splattered on the front steps.

”It’s really aggressive tagging. The neighbours don’t like either.”

There is a large amount of contamination to the house and the separate garage, which has been condemned.

“The manufacturing lab obviously because of the contamination levels was in the kitchen and bathroom. The kitchen is going to have to be completely stripped out, I am going to lose everything.

She said some walls will have to be stripped right back to the jib, all the floor coverings will have to go, the kitchen units, oven and possibly the new range hood will all have to be taken away.

The house was used as a meth lab and later tagged in red paint.

SUPPLIED/Stuff

The house was used as a meth lab and later tagged in red paint.

The assessment is going on and decontaminating the house is estimated to take between six to 10 weeks.

While Clewlow doesn’t have a final cost for the damage and repair, an insurance assessor told her the maximum cover for decontamination is $50,000. She was waiting for an assessment for repair costs.

The house is fully insured and is up-to-date with government rental regulations.

“I put in the air conditioning you are required, and installation as well as a range hood. It costs a lot to get up to standard.”

Three monthly inspections of the property were conducted.

“But they take all the kit out obviously to do their cooking and then pack it away nicely, and it’s not seen. Plus you give them notice when you’re going to do an inspection.”

Clewlow said the experience has been devastating.

“It’s just an innocent little rental. Because we live out of town at the moment, that was always my house that I was going to come back to.”

Clewlow will rent the house once it has been fixed. And she still intends to live in it when she retires.



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