Asbestos is a naturally occurring and mined mineral that was first used in the 1800’s and became more commonly used in the UK Industrial period due to its strength, flexibility, and fire-resistant qualities. Unlike many other materials, Asbestos can be woven and because of this versatility, it recrewed the name ‘magic mineral’. However, this mineral was not as magical as once thought. Recent studies have deduced that the dust that is emitted from asbestos can become lodged in the lungs and while they can remain dormant for decades, can potentially turn into serious terminal illnesses such as asbestosis, mesothelioma, lung cancer, and other cancers. Fortunately, the use of asbestos was restricted in the mid ’80s in Australia and banned completely by 2003, however, continued to be used up until 2009.
When trying to decipher if the property you are living on has asbestos in it, it is always best to look at when the house was built. Most residential premises that were constructed before 1985 will almost certainly contain asbestos or asbestos products, whereas residential premises constructed between 1985 and 1990 are less likely but still may contain asbestos or asbestos products. It is also helpful to have access to knowledge of any renovations done to the property and their dates. If you are looking to rent out your home or establishment, it is important to be aware of the laws surrounding rental of a property that contains or may contain asbestos.
‘Agents should ensure standard terms and contracts with clients require open and honest disclosure about all known risks associated with homes. Policies might also be developed to encourage owners to obtain risk assessments of homes, including in relation to asbestos of all forms.’ – (Office of Regulatory Services, 2014)
Real estate agents should always include the following things in their initial inspection of any property to facilitate the identification or the presence of asbestos on the property:
- The age of the property
- The date of any renovations
- The presence of asbestos products and whether the client is aware of it
- Whether the client is aware of any asbestos assessment report for the property
- The loose-fill asbestos insulation removal program if the client is aware if the property was a part of it.
If you are renting in a property, it is the responsibility of the landlord, or Real Estate Agent to disclose any problems that may occur from asbestos in said property. If it is very likely that the risk of asbestos exposure is high, the principal, after excluding their workers and clients from approaching the site should then advice the owner and engage a licensed Asbestos Assessor to advice on removal or management of the risk. In a contract of sale, there are numerous documents in which may relate to asbestos that you should look out for.
- Certificate of completion for asbestos removal work (loose fill asbestos insulation).
This would indicate that some asbestos fibres may remain in wall cavities.
- The lease containing an enquiry report which should state “records indicate that a form of asbestos is or has been present on this land”.
This will be issued if loose-fill asbestos insulation was identified during the removal program
- Correspondence about loose-fill asbestos insulation to home owners
- Possibly some building plans, removal control plans, and applications.
Agents, Landlords, and property owners are required by law to disclose the presence of asbestos to all clients whether they be potential buyers, or tenants. This is because is may impact the value of the property and its use.
If asbestos is discovered in a home you are renting, the Agent, Landlord, or Property owner is required to seek professional help via an asbestos tester, Asbestos Testing Bunbury, and an asbestos removalist, Asbestos Removal Bunbury. This will enable a licensed professional to take samples of any suspicious asbestos to be taken back to an NATA accredited laboratory and, if asbestos is discovered, for a licenced removalist to safely and legally remove any offending asbestos from the property.