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Free loose-fill asbestos testing

20 June 2016

Property managers should alert their landlords to register their properties for free loose-fill asbestos insulation sample testing.

The tests are being offered until 1 August 2016 by NSW Fair Trading to owners of residential properties built before 1980, in 28 NSW local government areas.

A limited offer of free testing has also been offered to an additional 35 local government areas in southern NSW.

As best practice REINSW recommends agents, and in particular property managers, should inform their clients of the opportunity to have their property tested if it fits within the capture criteria.

Any properties which test positive will be listed on the online public Loose-fill Asbestos Insulation Register (LFAI).

The effect on residential tenancies and owners

NSW Fair Trading recently issued a new Addendum to the New Tenant Checklist (the Checklist) which sets out how an agent or private landlord must disclose if a property has loose-fill asbestos to new tenants. To download the Addendum and the New Tenant Checklist please click here.

The Residential Tenancies Regulation 2010 has been amended to ensure tenants are notified of premises which are listed on the LFAI Register. The presence of LFAI is considered a material fact that must be disclosed to potential tenants.

The amendments also include an obligation to inform the tenant from October 30 2016 if the property is listed on the LFAI Register during a tenancy.

Under laws proposed by the NSW Government, property owners selling their property will be obligated to confirm in the contract of sale if their property contains loose-fill asbestos, or is free of loose-fill asbestos.

Whilst it is legal to rent a property with LFAI, REINSW strongly believes that any property listed on the LFAI Register are ‘patently dangerous’ and ‘uninhabitable’ and the affected properties ‘should not be leased under any circumstances’. Read REINSW’s submission on asbestos here.

An owner of a property found with loose-fill asbestos insulation has the option to sell their home or home and land valued on the basis it was free of asbestos as at 29 June 2015. Homeowners who are unsure whether they are eligible for free sample testing should contact Service NSW on 13 77 88.

NSW guidelines for agents

NSW Fair Trading has released guidelines on what agents should do in relation to loose-fill asbestos insulation.

The guidelines say agents should have processes in place for complying with their obligations under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 to identify and manage the risks where reasonably practicable.

It also recommends the following steps:

1. Agents should inform their principals that properties constructed before 1980 may contain loose-fill asbestos insulation

2. At the time of conducting their initial inspection, agents should ask their principal to complete a questionnaire.