Asbestos was a major scare for workers and homeowners a few decades ago. Known for causing mesothelioma and other lung conditions, asbestos was banned in 1989. However, nearly 30 years later, the dangers still exist as older buildings which have yet to be renovated since the new regulations may still contain asbestos.
Landlords have some degree of responsibility when it comes to asbestos and tenant notification. In some situations, the tenant may be able to claim landlord negligence. Here are some things to know about the law when it comes to asbestos in buildings.
What is Asbestos and Where is it Found?
Asbestos is a mineral substance that was once used widely in buildings due to its resistance to heat and corrosion. It is also very strong and works well as an insulator. Asbestos, however, is highly toxic. The risks of this mineral were hidden from consumers for many years. Now, many people suffer from mesothelioma and other deadly lung conditions.
Asbestos can be found throughout the home. It has been found in a variety of building materials and manufactured goods. Asbestos can be found in insulation, fireproofing materials, caulking, paint, and cement. It can also be found in tiles, plaster, wallboard and roofing shingles.
How to Identify Asbestos
You cannot identify asbestos simply by looking at your home, as the fibers cannot be seen with the naked eye. It is assumed that any building built before 1981 contains asbestos. The only way to know for sure is to have a trained asbestos professional analyze a sample of your home and check it to see if it contains asbestos. Do not attempt to take a sample yourself, as this can cause more harm than good.
A tenant has the right to know if the building they are occupying contains asbestos. If asbestos is present, the landlord must inform the tenant. Additionally, if the landlord has never had the building inspected for asbestos, that also must be disclosed to the client.
Just because asbestos is present does not mean that it must be removed. It is only dangerous when it becomes airborne. Therefore, if it is not airborne and has little chance of being disturbed, then the landlord is not obligated to remove it. The landlord does, however, need to inform the tenant of the types of activities that could disturb the asbestos.
If the asbestos is airborne, the landlord and tenant may have limited options. The tenant may have the option to break the lease or withhold part of the rent. If the tenant has been injured by the asbestos, and the landlord was aware of the dangers, then a lawsuit is possible.
Get Legal Help from a Brooklyn Landlord Negligence Attorney
If you discover asbestos in your home, your landlord may be obligated to remove it to create a habitable residence. If your landlord is not cooperating with federal and state laws, you may be able to file a lawsuit and seek compensation for damages resulting in the asbestos exposure.
If you are living in a home or apartment with asbestos, seek legal help. The Law Office of Jeffrey K. Kestenbaum can help you file a landlord negligence claim. To learn more about your legal options, call our Brooklyn office at (718) 237-5586.