News & Insights
A naturally occurring mineral substance, asbestos fibres are soft and flexible, resembling fabric or wool, and if inhaled can cause serious health problems. Since 2004 asbestos has been banned Australia wide.
There are two types of asbestos; bonded and friable. Bonded or non friable asbestos products are made from a bonding compound, such as cement, mixed with a small proportion of asbestos. Bonded asbestos products contain tightly bound asbestos fibres and cannot be crumbled by hand pressure. This type of asbestos is considered low risk to people, as long as they are in good condition and remain undisturbed.
Friable asbestos products are generally not solid and can be crumbled into a powdery texture with hand pressure. Friable asbestos products usually contain high levels of asbestos and pose a health risk to people living and working in the area.
When asbestos is disturbed, the fibres can become airborne, making them easily inhaled by those nearby. After inhalation, the fibres can become trapped in the lungs, posing a number of hazards like scarring and inflammation which can lead to breathing issues. asbestos fibres can also cause a number of life-threatening diseases like cancer.
The new rental law reforms passed in the government last year to come into effect in July 2020, stipulate that the property owners must disclose if the property has asbestos. As it’s not always possible to tell if a building contains asbestos materials, Jade Wilson, a member Marshall White’s Property Management department, recommends obtaining a thorough building report.
‘It would be in the owner’s best interest to complete a report on their property for peace of mind. It would also be in your property manager’s best interest to ensure the report is readily available for prospective renters, should they make an enquiry,’ says Jade.
In Australia, many homes built prior to 1990 comprise building materials containing bonded asbestos. These materials were commonly used in the bathroom, laundry, kitchen, gutters and garage of the home.
If asbestos is found on your rental property, you may be required to organise the safe removal of the material, however Jade points out that undisrupted asbestos is usually fine and in most cases should be left as is.
It would be in the owner’s best interest to complete a report on their property for peace of mind. It would also be in your property manager’s best interest to ensure the report is readily available for prospective renters, should they make an enquiry.
‘I still recommend getting a qualified asbestos tradesperson to attend and produce a report confirming the asbestos is undisturbed and it is safe to remain,’ says Jade.
On the other hand, the presence of disturbed friable asbestos poses a significant health risk to people in and around the area.
‘If asbestos is broken, this needs to be treated as urgent maintenance and should be removed as soon as possible, ensuring the renter is not exposed to the particles during the removal. This could be agreeing on a time for work to take place, assisting the renter with temporary accommodation while works are undertaken or allowing the renter to vacate with minimal or no penalties,’ says Jade.
Asbestos contamination on a property may mean the property can no longer be rented out or the renter may need to vacate for a period of time . In this instance, as the owner of the affected property, you may be eligible for certain tax deductions, including interest on loans against the rental property and council rates. For more information, we recommend visiting the ATO website.
If you need any further assistance or have any questions, please contact our Marshall White Property Management Team (03) 9822 8711.