New laws have been introduced in New South Wales to help protect homeowners and renters from loose-fill asbestos insulation. Some of these new laws affect what you need to do as a property owner and the information that’s available about your home.
The new legislation is under the Home Building Act 1989 and it has created a publicly available register of all homes where there is confirmed loose-fill asbestos insulation, or where there’s substantial evidence it’s likely to be in the home.
The names and details of those who own or live in the homes aren’t available, but having the address available allows emergency services personnel, tradespeople, council and others to know whether the property is a source of asbestos. Homes on the register are also required to display a warning sign on their main switchboard, which is supplied by NSW Fair Trading.
To get a property off the register it has to be demolished and the land has to be remediated, in accordance with government standards.
What tenants and landlords should know
If your property is on the register, this is a ‘material fact’ that you and your real estate agent will be required to disclose to tenants, tradespeople and home buyers. From 30 October 2016, your standard tenancy agreement will include a new clause that will notify tenants if the home is on the register.
The New Tenant Checklist will also include an amendment about checking whether a property is listed on the register, and the Residential Tenancies Regulation 2010 laws will be amended to make it a legal obligation to disclose this information to tenants.
Tenants are not able to register the property they’re renting for free sample testing, but are able to look at the register. It’s likely some may choose to negotiate the end of the lease if the home is found to contain asbestos, but this will vary for lease to lease.
What home sellers and buyers should know
There’s still discussion about how exactly home sellers and buyers will be affected. NSW Fair Trading current indicates the government is looking into legislative amendments to the Conveyancing Act to introduce a standard loose-fill asbestos insulation warning notice in the contract for sale to alert buyers to the risks.
They’re also potentially going to require a vendor to warrant that at the time of sale, no premises include this type of asbestos unless specifically disclosed. This is currently in discussion.
A voluntary purchase and demolition program will also be available through the government, that can include some financial assistance for tenants and property owners who choose this option.