domestic rental - Asbestos in Domestic Rental Properties?

So who is responsible for the asbestos contamination of a domestic rental property?

Asbestos was widely used in the building and construction industry in Australia until its ban in the late 1980’s. To be safe we suggest any building built before 1990 poses a risk of asbestos containing materials being used in the construction of the home. Asbestos is most likely to have been used in Roofing, Flooring, Guttering, Internal wall and Ceiling linings, Eaves , Vent pipes , Sewer breathe surrounds, Floor coverings , Fencing , External cladding , in electrical meter boxes and even swimming pools . We have worked on homes where the timber floor and timber framing were the only parts of the building that did not contain asbestos. Work safe Australia suggest that 90% of homes built before 1985 will contain asbestos!

Its easy for us to spot the likelihood of asbestos in a home, we have many years of experience, we also have access to laboratories that can give a 100% test result for the presence of asbestos in anything . So the question arises how can everybody else be kept safe from asbestos contamination ? We can offer these solutions if faced with a damaged building that is in need of repair .

  1. Treat all linings in the home as asbestos, Work Safe Australia says” if you suspect that a material contains asbestos you MUST treat it as though it IS asbestos .”
  2. Just walk away and do nothing.
  3. Call in a professional to investigate after some damage has been done.
  4. Call in a professional to identify the likely hood of asbestos in the building . Providing you with a report clearly showing where asbestos may be in the building ensuring no further accidental contamination.

Owners of buildings that contain asbestos have a responsibility to ensure the building is safe to inhabit and well maintained, when the management of rental properties is handed over to managing agents this responsibility is handed over to them . According to Workplace Health & Safety law this responsibility extends to the staff of the managing agent and any trades or services people they send to do work or inspections on these homes. The severity of asbestos related disease is well documented and often fatal and in this day and age are virtually preventable with education and good management practices. So what are the options ?

  1. Do not manage any properties that contain asbestos.
  2. Take the attitude everything will be ok and ignore the risk
  3. Call in a professional to identify the likely hood of asbestos in the building . Providing you with a report clearly showing where asbestos may be in the building ensuring no further accidental contamination.

Considering that you as a managing agent may have to enter a contaminated home totally unaware that the broken wall you have heard about contains asbestos I think the old boy scout saying always be prepared works well in this situation . The benefits of having a detailed easy to read asbestos report as part of the workplace safety management documentation the business carries is invaluable

lets have a look at an example of what can happen
A regular property inspection notes there is a hole in the wall in the laundry so the relevant trades are called out to fix the hole . The board on the wall is what we call LDB low density Board this material contains up to 80% asbestos by volume and is classified as friable but nobody is aware . The repairs are carried out the and the wall is sawed and sanded releasing deadly asbestos fibers and contaminating the home . The tenant has to clean up after the handyman and uses their own vacuum cleaner which is not rated for asbestos removal , every time they use the vacuum cleaner they spread asbestos fibers thru the home eventually contaminating the entire property and all their belongings . The agent comes in and checks the work is done properly before the handyman is paid risking contamination as well . Somebody realizes what has happened and a hygienist is called. As a minimum the home will be evacuated as tests are done to find the extent of the contamination . The tenants are relocated without their belongings and begin a lifetime of testing to monitor their health . Eventually a decision is made and all the curtains ,carpets ,lounges and clothing is dumped as contaminated waste computers , tv’s the lot anything that cannot be decontaminated is dumped as contaminated waste .

All this could have been avoided with an asbestos report the managing agent would have known what parts of the home was likely to contain asbestos . The damaged area could have been stabilized and tested to know 100% if there was in fact asbestos in the wall lining , and the appropriate action taken with minimal fuss and expense. The situation could have been managed professionally and safely . Accidents happen we all know that not having the correct procedures in place to keep people and property safe is no accident !

For as little as $200.00 we can provide you with the documentation to ensure that all asbestos in properties you manage is clearly identified . The report is non destructive so no damage is done to the property, it is quick and simple a pdf copy can be emailed to you within minutes of the onsite visit .All our inspectors are qualified asbestos professionals that have years of experience in the industry some with over 20 years of experience. It wont be long until this becomes law and if you wait price gouging will be rife we all saw what happened with the failed pink batt scheme a flood of cowboys and unqualified operators flooded the market, these reports are to important not to have them done by trained professionals .In the commercial properties sector these types of reports are mandatory for proprieties built before 1990. Australian Bureau of Statistics report reveals that 1,014 people died in NSW from mesothelioma, for which there is no known cure, after being exposed to asbestos from 2002-2006. It is estimated that by 2020 Australia will have 13,000 cases of mesothelioma and a further 40,000 asbestos-related cancers asbestos exposure continues to claim lives this is avoidable. Call us on 0404839501 to get some more advice and strat getting all your properties built before 1990 inspected and reports produced for them to ensure everybody’s safety and to minimize the loss of property by asbestos contamination.