Many houses built before 1990 were constructed using materials that contained asbestos. That's not a problem if the materials are in good condition. The safest option in that case is to leave it alone and not disturb them.
However, if asbestos in a rental property is damaged or is to be removed, then it is usually the landlord’s responsibility or that of their agent’s to make it safe. The landlord must ensure the rental property is kept in good repair and fit for the tenant to live in.
Before disturbing asbestos – no matter how minor – it’s important that adequate precautions are taken. There are specific laws designed to ensure that asbestos is handled, removed and disposed of safely.
If you plan to remove asbestos from a property you own yourself, then you are limited to removing 10 square metres or less of asbestos containing material or obtain a removal certificate under requirements of the Department of Health. Otherwise it may be better to engage a licensed asbestos removalist to do the work.
Damaged boundary fences
Damaged boundary fences, including cracks and holes in the fence, or sections of fence on the ground, may not pose an immediate health risk, but any damaged edges should be sealed to avoid asbestos fibres becoming airborne. Under the Public Health Act 2005, any broken surface of bonded ACM (for example, a broken fence) that is not being removed must be sealed. This can be done by applying paint or PVA glue to the surface.
The repair or maintenance of a fence may fall under a condition of your residential tenancy agreement. As a tenant, you should notify the landlord or agent and request to have the damaged fence made safe. If the fence is not made safe, you may notify your landlord or real estate agent that they have breached one or more of the terms of the residential tenancy agreement.
For further information about how to provide notification you can contact the Residential Tenancies Authority. They can also provide advice if your landlord does not comply with your notice.
Putting up a warning sticker in your switchboard or electrical box that your house may contain asbestos will help alert tradespeople and contractors that asbestos may be found there so they take adequate precautions before any work is carried out safely.