Frequently asked questions - Loose-fill asbestos

Loose-fill asbestos

What is loose-fill asbestos insulation?

This is insulation made from raw asbestos that has been crushed into a fine state and installed in roof spaces as ceiling insulation. If disturbed, asbestos fibres can move from the ceiling to other areas of the home, such as walls and sub-floor areas. The fibres can also become airborne and breathed in or ingested which can cause health risks. Visits links and contacts for more information.

What is ‘Mr Fluffy’?

During the 1960s and 1970s, pure loose-fill asbestos was sold as ceiling insulation for residential and commercial premises. A Canberra based company known as 'Mr Fluffy' installed this insulation in around 1,000 homes in the ACT.

Mr Fluffy is understood to have also installed insulation in homes in NSW. A second contractor, Bowsers Asphalt was identified in a 1969 ACT Health Services Branch report as using loose-fill asbestos for ceiling insulation, but only for large non-residential buildings.

PricewaterhouseCoopers was commissioned by the Heads of Asbestos Coordination Authorities to conduct an independent investigation to measure the number of properties in NSW with loose-fill asbestos insulation.

What are the health risks for residents in affected properties?

The NSW Chief Health Officer has advised that living in a house with loose-fill asbestos will not confer any significant health risks provided that there is no meaningful exposure pathway to asbestos fibres.

NSW Health acknowledges that this will place an onus on homeowners to continually maintain their house, not access their roof space, wall cavities and sub floor area and will require management if they want to renovate their home.

Given the continuing onus on homeowners to carefully maintain their properties, NSW Health also acknowledges that demolition of an affected house, comprehensive site remediation and appropriate disposal would remove any enduring health risk.

Assistance for owners and tenants

Are there any requirements for disclosure of hazard information?

Yes, the requirements under the law include:

·    The establishment of a public Loose-Fill Asbestos Insulation Register.

·    Mandatory hazard labelling of affected properties.

·    Identification of affected properties on section 10.7(2) planning certificates.

·    A generic warning statement for inclusion on section 10.7(5) planning certificates for pre-1980s homes in identified local government areas.

·    A warning statement about loose-fill asbestos insulation as a prescribed document in Contracts of Sale.

·    Residential tenancy laws to protect current and future tenants living in premises affected by loose-fill asbestos insulation to ensure it is disclosed by real estate agents.

Changes to Residential Tenancies Agreement

Where is the Loose-fill Asbestos Insulation Register?

Under new regulatory amendments relating to loose-fill asbestos insulation , a public Register of properties affected was put together. The Register has been publicly available from the NSW Fair Trading website since 30 May 2016.

What are the changes to the Residential Tenancy Agreement?

As of 30 May 2016, real estate agents and/or landlords have to notify prospective tenants if residential properties available to lease are already listed on the LFAI Register.

As of 30 October 2016, a new term was added to the standard form tenancy agreement requiring landlords to tell existing tenants if a property has been added to the LFAI Register.

How can tenants find out if a rental property has tested positive to LFAI, or gets listed during their tenancy?

Tenants can check the LFAI Register.

Under the new Residential Tenancy laws, a landlord must advise their tenant in writing within 14 days of the property being listed on the LFAI Register.

What are my responsibilities as a landlord if my property has been listed on the register while it is being leased?

Under the new Residential Tenancy laws, a landlord must advise their tenant in writing within 14 days of the property being listed on the LFAI Register.

If tenants find out that the property they are renting has been put on the LFAI register, what are their options?

Tenants who are not concerned by the presence of loose-fill asbestos insulation (LFAI) can choose to keep renting the property. If the landlord is participating in the Voluntary Purchase and Demolition Program, this won’t be a long-term option.

Tenants who are not within the fixed period of a rental tenancy agreement can give 21 days’ notice and vacate the property.

If tenants are still within the fixed period of a rental tenancy agreement but want to vacate the property quickly, they should contact the managing agent or landlord and negotiate the termination of their lease.

Tenants who want to terminate the lease following the detection of LFAI, but are having difficulties can make a complaint to NSW Fair Trading.

How does this affect a tenants' rights to terminate a lease?

The tenants' rights to terminate a lease remain the same.

How can a tenant find out if a property is safe to stay in?

Tenants can request a copy of the air and dust reports which provides readings on the level of asbestos in each area. If the landlord won't provide the report, tenants can make a complaint to NSW Fair Trading.

Tenants should ask their local GP for advice on health risks.

Prev Previous program testing results
Next Loose-fill asbestos links and contacts