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Keeping P out of your property

Two years ago this month, Kerry O'Rourke faced the dilemma of discovering his Hamilton rental was being raided by police for evidence of a P lab.

By Jo Ferris

National headlines at the time referred to it as New Zealand's biggest P lab bust - the perpetrator still behind bars, having received a nine-year jail sentence.

O'Rourke now happily lives in the property - conceding heavy media exposure made it difficult to rent the property afterwards. He remains skeptical about the circumstances of his particular case - still believing ESR forensic estimates of chemical contamination were "over the top". O'Rourke says he engaged an independent expert, whose results showed minimal exposure.

O'Rourke doesn't deny his tenant was making P. He simply says it wasn't to the scale that was publicly portrayed - particularly the amount of drugs found in the property.

O'Rourke became suspicious of the tenant when rent payments lagged and O'Rourke couldn't contact him.  When he did, the promise of the "cheque in the mail" caused concern. The place also appeared shut up - but O'Rourke only discovered the full extent of what was happening, when he turned up to  find the police raiding the property.

O'Rourke was issued a Cleansing Order from Hamilton City Council - and sought two quotes from clean-up operators recommended by the council. Thinking they were outrageous, and being a painter/decorator, O'Rourke undertook the clean-up himself - taking precautions of wearing throw-away suits and a mask.

Within five weeks, O'Rourke had stripped the wallpaper from the upstairs and redecorated. He also re-carpeted. Furnishings were wrapped and dumped and O'Rourke had the place re-tested. He says it didn't go on the LIM - council happy with the independent scientist's report that exposure was minimal.

O'Rourke estimates the overall cost was between $7,000 and $8,000. He has poured a lot more money into the place since moving in - and has recently had the property valued at $550,000.