Renting An Old House? 3 Responsibilities Your Landlord Has Regarding Asbestos

If you live in a home that was built before 1980, there's a strong possibility that it contains some asbestos materials. Asbestos, commonly used in products such as flooring tiles, ceiling tiles, insulation, roofing, siding and paint, is a known carcinogen that can cause mesothelioma, a rare form of lung cancer, in individuals exposed to airborne asbestos particles. 

Many laws vary from state to state. However, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has established numerous Federal laws, meaning they apply to all 50 states, regarding asbestos and landlord responsibilities. Your state may have asbestos laws that go above and beyond these laws. Following are three responsibilities your landlord has regarding asbestos per the regulations set forth by OSHA. 

Full Disclosure

If a landlord knows that there is asbestos in a home or apartment building, they are required by law to inform tenants and potential tenants about the situation. If the landlord does not know if there is asbestos in the home or not, they are still not off the hook. They must inform tenants that they do not know if there is or isn't asbestos in the building. Tenants are then allowed to ask for an inspection, since all buildings built before 1981 are assumed to have asbestos in them by OSHA. The landlord is required to have an inspection performed before doing any work on the home that could cause asbestos to become airborne.

Asbestos Removal

Landlords only have to remove asbestos if it can become airborne through deterioration or renovation. However, there are some exceptions to the rule. If your landlord employs more than 10 people or hires independent contractors to perform repairs, they have to remove asbestos materials even if they are in good shape. If your landlord performs all repairs and if the materials are in good condition, they don't have to remove the asbestos. 

Tenant Rights

If the materials are deteriorating or if there is a chance that asbestos is airborne in the home, tenants can withhold rent until the situation is remedied. There is no law, at least at the Federal level, that says landlords must remove asbestos, but tenants can withhold rent indefinitely or break their lease until their landlord does so. It is up to the tenant whether or not they wish to continue living in the home or move elsewhere. If the landlord decides to have the property condemned and cease renting out the property, they could evict the tenants. But they cannot evict them for not withholding rent.

Federal law is very clear when it comes to landlord responsibilities regarding asbestos. If you fear that you're living in a home with asbestos, you may also want to see what state laws apply to your situation. For more information, contact a company like Hutzel & Associates, Inc.