Otago residential property investors at risk of fines Otago Mum and Dad property investors are being urged to understand the new rules in dealing with asbestos or risk a costly fine. Under new WorkSafe legislation, the updated Management and Removal of Asbestos Act, rental property owners are now responsible for identifying and dealing with asbestos in tenanted homes. Betta Inspect It’s Otago property inspector Larry Greene said rental property owners are regarded as PCBU’s (a person conducting a business or undertaking). Asbestos is the single biggest cause of deaths from work-related disease. On average about 170 people die every year from asbestos-related diseases. Breathing in airborne asbestos fibres is a serious risk to health – once the fibres are breathed in, they lodge in the lungs and may cause asbestosis, lung cancer or mesothelioma. Mr Greene says landlords need to ensure they have checked rental properties for asbestos and if found, know it’s current state and put in place an asbestos management plan for any stable asbestos that does not need to be removed immediately. “Property owners need to make tenants aware if the house has asbestos and what state it is in. In most instances, it can be in a good state but wear and tear needs to be monitored. For example if a vinyl floor with asbestos deteriorates it can cause dust – which can cause harm. “The first step is pretty easy in that 8 out of 10 houses built pre-mid 1980s had asbestos – whether that be in ceilings, walls or floor. “The next step is to get a property inspection from a qualified inspector, who will identify the asbestos, it’s current state and recommend the best approach to managing the removal of any asbestos that’s in deteriorating state. “It sounds costly but it’s actually not when it comes to health risks associated with asbestos, it’s better to deal with it early,” Mr Greene said. Mr Greene says the one-off test is done by a property inspector, who takes samples which are analysed by an accredited laboratory for the presence of asbestos.