As a landlord, you’ve got many relationships with your tenants. Some are financial in terms of rent and insurance. Some are obligations, such as maintenance and repair. And some are legal. Part of your legal requirements (in almost every state, including those in New England) is to provide “livable rentals” for your tenants. If you discover or believe there may be asbestos present in your apartments, you need to take measures to protect your tenants, workers, and yourself.
Factors for Discovering Asbestos in Apartments
For buildings that were built before the 1990s, there is a possibility that as asbestos is present in the construction. If you have remodeling or construction conducted on the building, OSHA laws may apply where the building must be inspected for asbestos and other hazardous materials before work.
If asbestos is discovered, safety measure will have to be taken with any work on the apartments. Depending on the severity, it may make more sense to start talking to an asbestos abatement specialist to render the asbestos safe then continue work.
Liability: Implied Warrant of Habitability
The implied warranty of habitability, also known as “livable rentals” or “livable places” exists between tenant and landlord even if not explicitly mentions in a lease/rental agreement.
- Basic Standards: Every tenant’s place must meet basic health and safety standards.
- Health Risks: Materials that pose health risks, such as asbestos, could be argued to violate this.
- Liability: When these rights are violated, tenants may be able to break their lease or move without notice, withhold rent, or sue for damages.
Cautionary Tale: The Commons at Sylvan Highlands
A Southwest Portland apartment complex continues to be under siege from former employees and tenants, including a class-action lawsuit and a $40 million lawsuit against the management company. These stem from the allegations that management discovered asbestos during remodels and failed to take proper asbestos abatement steps, instead attempting to cover up the incident from tenants and potential exposure, going so far as to fire employees who found out.
It’s important to protect yourself from years of lawsuits and liabilities and provide safe conditions to your tenants. If you’re concerned about the presence of asbestos in your apartment complex, business, or home, contact Fiber Control, Inc. We provide asbestos inspection and abatement services throughout Massachusetts and Connecticut.