The real estate industry is becoming increasingly aware of the potentially far reaching effects of the “Mr Fluffy” loose fill asbestos issue, with Work Cover identifying 26 NSW Local Government areas currently at risk.
The problem confronting all agents and property managers is that the presence of loose fill insulation containing asbestos is a “Material Fact.” Currently, affected properties must not be offered for sale or lease and agents have a clear responsibility to enquire from their client whether the property is insulated and if so what type. . If the answer is “yes” or “not sure” to the presence of loose fill type then the client should obtain an inspection and report from a qualified asbestos assessor.
However, the “Mr Fluffy” issue has become a catalyst for the industry to discuss Asbestos and how agents and property managers are to deal with properties affected by it and what are the correct steps for them to take in enquiring about asbestos in the property. This is particularly crucial since agent and property manager’s Professional Indemnity Insurance Policy does not cover the risks associated with asbestos related claims.
In January, Work Cover met with Estate Agents Co-operative Ltd, NSW Fair Trading and REINSW to discuss this issue.
During the meeting, discussion was had regarding the need to clearly outline to agents, property managers and consumers the steps that they need to take regarding asbestos in properties. WorkCover will develop a factsheet regarding Asbestos, to tackle this need. EAC will provide consultation on the content of this factsheet.
“The protection of agents, property managers, and consumers is paramount in this issue. And whilst the WorkCover factsheet is necessary, it is very much a first step. Agents and Property Managers cannot be expected to make a qualified assessment of whether asbestos is present in a property,” said Geoff Hunter, EAC Industry Liaison Officer.
Clear directions are crucial for the real estate industry in the dealing with asbestos. Whilst the “Mr Fluffy” issue is of a great concern, it has aided in bringing to light how inadequate the procedures, for agents and property managers, in dealing with asbestos are.
The Estate Agents Co-operative will continue to work with Work Cover and NSW Fair Trading to lobby for any and all necessary changes to regulation and policy in order to ensure the protection of agents, property managers and the consumers.