Removing household contents

It is difficult to certify that a particular household item is not contaminated by asbestos fibres, as certification can only be provided by a licensed asbestos assessor and the method of sampling and testing varies for different items.

If you have any concerns about your property or particular items in your home, you should engage the services of a licensed asbestos assessor to inspect your property and provide specific advice.

Only Class A licensed asbestos removalists can remove loose-fill asbestos and carry out decontamination work. If a licensed asbestos assessor or licensed asbestos removalist has made recommendations that certain goods be disposed of, you should follow that advice.

You can obtain contact details for a licensed asbestos assessor or Class A licensed asbestos removalist who operates in your area from the Asbestos demolition licence holders page on the SafeWorkNSW website or call 13 10 50.

When you are moving out of a loose-fill asbestos affected property, the NSW Government encourages homeowners to carefully consider the removal of home contents.

The following general guidance is provided to assist residents in this process and offers general advice about what precautions should be taken to protect against any possible health risks associated with removal work.

Low risk areas

The following are considered low risk areas:

  • Areas outside the affected premises;
  • Areas inside the affected premises where no asbestos has been identified during air and dust testing.

Items located in low risk areas can generally be removed without wiping the items down or wearing personal protective equipment. However, there is no way to certify whether an item contains asbestos fibres unless it has been inspected and tested by a licensed asbestos assessor.

If you have any concerns, you should seek advice from a licensed asbestos assessor.

Areas where asbestos fibres have been identified

If loose-fill asbestos has been found in a particular area of the premises, there is a possibility items located in that area may contain asbestos fibres. Precautions should be taken when deciding whether to remove an item from that area and when carrying out removal works.

Under the Voluntary Purchase and Demolition Program, where asbestos fibres have been identified in living spaces of the premises, homeowners will be provided with specific guidance to help inform their decision on what precautions they should take.

Contaminated areas

The following are considered contaminated areas in properties affected by loose-fill asbestos:

  • ceiling cavities;
  • wall cavities;
  • subfloor areas;
  • fixed cupboards where asbestos fibres have been identified.

You should not enter a contaminated area and you should not remove, sell, or give away any items that have been stored in a contaminated area.

Any items stored in contaminated areas should only be moved or recovered by a Class A licensed asbestos removalist.

The item should then be decontaminated by the Class A licensed asbestos removalist and a clearance certificate provided by an independent licensed asbestos assessor.

Alternatively, these items should be left in your property to be disposed of safely by the NSW Government when the property is demolished under the Program.

Any soft items (e.g. soft furnishings, fabric, soft toys, bedding, linen and clothing) that have been stored in a contaminated area cannot be decontaminated effectively.

These items should be left in your property to be disposed of safely by the NSW Government when the property is demolished under the Program.

Suggested decision making approach

Affected homeowners can access a <suggested decision making approach diagram> for removing household contents.

Furniture removalists and people helping in removal works

If you engage furniture removalists to help you move out, your property becomes their workplace so you must tell them that the property is affected by loose-fill asbestos. The furniture removalists can then ensure they take any necessary safety precautions. You should provide them with:

  • a copy of these guidelines;
  • reports from any asbestos testing that has been carried out at your property;
  • a copy of the Working in an affected home fact sheet available on the Fair Trading website; and
  • the Furniture Removalist's acknowledgment form, which Fair Trading will provide to homeowners to complete.

It is recommended that you take the same approach with anyone else (e.g. family and friends) assisting you with moving out of your property.

Fixtures and fittings

Under no circumstances are fixtures and fittings to be removed from the property, as their removal increases the risk of opening loose-fill asbestos exposure pathways and you risk taking asbestos contaminated items to your new property.

All fixtures and fittings have been taken into account through the valuation process and become the property of the NSW Government after the Government purchases the property under Option 1 or affected premises under Option 2.

If any fixtures or fittings are removed from the property, this may delay the final settlement of your property.

Financial assistance available

The Taskforce will not reimburse any costs associated with work carried out by licensed asbestos assessors or removalists. However, the Program does provide $10,000 to assist with relocation expenses and financial assistance of $5,000 for the replacement of soft furnishings and/or porous materials like clothes, curtains or linen.

Visit the assistance for owners and tenants page for more information.

While insurance policies often exclude asbestos contamination, they can differ. Homeowners, tenants and landlords are encouraged to discuss claims in relation to contents with their insurers.

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