Am I screwed for all future tenants after positive asbestos test?

8 Replies

My current tenant got an inspector to take multiple samples of asbestos.

The biggest asbestos items are in the attic.

Popcorn ceiling everywhere, tested at 1% asbestos.

In your experience, does having asbestos in the house make it more difficult to rent out?

I am still pissed that my tenant did an asbestos test at random parts of my house.

Now I have to disclose everything.  

Should I remove the popcorn ceiling so that I don't have to disclose it anymore?

Originally posted by @Mike Franco :

My current tenant got an inspector to take multiple samples of asbestos.

The biggest asbestos items are in the attic.

Popcorn ceiling everywhere, tested at 1% asbestos.

In your experience, does having asbestos in the house make it more difficult to rent out?

I am still pissed that my tenant did an asbestos test at random parts of my house.

Now I have to disclose everything.  

Should I remove the popcorn ceiling so that I don't have to disclose it anymore?

 In Seattle I bought a meth house with mold and asbestos. The guy I had inspect the house once worked for the State of Washington whatever, whatever Dept that tested for toxic substances. He told me that if you worked in the ship yards with asbestos or mined asbestos for a career you might have a problem and a claim. Most vermiculite (attic insulation) popcorn ceilings and such just don't pose enough of a risk to worry about.

So, I sprayed the ceiling with water, put on a painter's suit and a respirator and scrapped the ceiling in about half an hour. I then patched & painted the ceiling. The paint seals any remnants. I can tell the tale since the statute of limitations have long ago run. It's kind of like global cooling, I mean global warming, I mean climate change. What fantasy is it this week?

Anyway, I'd find a way to ditch the current tenant, and find a tenant that actually understands science.

@Mike Franco did you not answer your own question? You’re acting like your rental is screwed forever when you know you can fix it. It’s a pretty easy fix so just pay a painter if you don’t want to deal with it. And then move on.

Steven, the tenant actually filed a complaint with the government air quality bureau, and they mandated asbestos testing and warned me on proper removal of asbestos materials.

The govt inspector said there was a 100 sqft rule, and I have 1000 sqft of popcorn, and only owner/occupant (you actually live in the rental) can remove asbestos.

So I have to be careful about doing it myself, as I don't actually occupy the rental.

But my question remains... once you disclose asbestos to applicants, how often do they back out?

so a couple links I found googling it suggest that landlord is resposnsible for notifying tenants of presence of asbestos,  but not for removing it so long as its not presenting an immediate hazard.   I would presume (not a laywer) that popcorn ceilings in otherwise good condition would not present a substantial hazard.   If the tenant has a teenager that bounces basketballs off the ceiling,  that is a behavioral issue of the tenancy creating the risk.

My pending-sale duplex has asbestos shake siding over asbestos jersey brick on the exterior.  Interiors are comparatively modern though except for old doors and cabinets which I disclosed for lead paint as well.   I did notify the tenants.  None cared,  but its in an old hipster part of town where half the buildings were built pre WW1.    If your rental is in an area that gets a lot of families they may be more concerned.

Some tenants (like yours) are going to make a bugaboo over it either due to misinformation/fear, some agenda or just because they have an axe to grind.   You may want to just up and ask them what they want,  or what their expectations are.   If they are unhappy living there and are trying to get out of the agreement early,  that might be the best move.   I've had tenants start complaining about every little thing including stuff I had little control over,  and ultimately (even after I fixed what was realistic to do so) move out anyway.   The problem was they weren't happy with their situation and were looking for an excuse/reason to leave.   If they want to stay and want it fixed,  in the long run its probably worth doing anyway but let them know how much of a hassle its going to be to them as well as you.  Contractors,  moving around furniture, covering it, plastic everywhere, etc for a week or two probably.   They may change their mind.    And don't be shy about rolling the cost into rent,   just don't do it in a "retaliatory" way.   If your normal rent increases have been x%,  keep the same schedule but do x+2% for a couple years or something.

You may not be able to scrape the popcorn legally as a rental owner,   but you can encapsulate it (add a 1/4" layer of drywall over the top) and seal it that way.    Still a lot of work however if its a big area.   That's probably the strategy I will eventually employ for the 1500sf or so of popcorn over my head as I type this,  but it would be hired out along with a complete interior repaint,  and its owner occupied.    I think there are also extra thick/heavy paint products which could be sprayed over the popcorn to help seal and stabilize it.   If it hasn't ever been painted/coated since original application just doing that will help hold it together and prevent dust;  that work should not be too intrusive.

Brian, I'm pretty sure they're leaving. I'm just mentally preparing for the next tenants.

I was just looking up any california law that states whether I need to disclose asbestos or not, and I actually can't find any!

The only thing is http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?sectionNum=25915.&lawCode=HSC

and that asbestos disclosure requirement sounds like it applies to disclosure to employees who will be working in the building. It doesn't have wording that applies to residential tenants.

If I don't need to disclose, I'd rather not give any disclosure at all.

and that way I can save myself a buttload of labor and cost for something so harmless.

In fact, all the asbestos in the house is harmless, but the number of items looks scary to the uninformed tenant.

Mike

If I may offer a thought- Because you are already having to disclose the potential presence of lead paint- add in a disclosure about the asbestos.  Maybe something such as " This home was originally built in 19--.  Builders of homes during this time period are know to have used asbestos and asbestos containing products which are known to create certain health risks, including mesothelioma, asbestosis, and various other health issues, including cancer. By signing this lease you have been made aware of the potential health risks and agree to assume these risks."  

I would not play with fire when it comes to failing to disclose.   You don't know what your tenant have already experienced in their lives that might have already exposed them to asbestos. 

I would place something like this in or near the lead based paint disclosure. - make it an extension of the lead based paint disclosure.   

I doubt most tenants will even care but at least you have told them.  Its on them to read and understand the agreement. 

I hope this helps. 

Steve

@Mike Franco You disturb the asbestos when you remove items that contain asbestos. As another stated the outside of shingle siding can have asbestos so dont break it open and breathe it. Thats why people paint over it without disturbing the asbestos. Same goes for drywall, many places may have asbestos but dont break open the drywall. This is my "uneducated" real life experience and talking to many others while renovating houses. I am no expert in asbestos and not giving legal advice. I like what @Steven Warner had to say. I personally would ask a property manager of a sizable property that is the same age as your house for a qualified answer. Good luck and keep us posted.