Protecting Tenants: Rental House with Asbestos Melbourne – Navigating the Dangers

So, you’ve stumbled upon or have a hunch your rental house in Melbourne has asbestos? There’s no need to panic, but you’ve got to act fast and smart.

This piece will guide you through the must-knows and what-to-dos when dealing with this sneaky hazard. We’ll chat about your rights as a tenant and what your landlord should be doing and give you some go-to resources to help keep you safe and in the know.

Key Takeaways

  • Melbourne rental properties constructed before the late 1980s may contain asbestos, requiring professional inspections for detection and management due to its associated severe health risks, including mesothelioma and lung cancer.
  • Landlords in Melbourne are legally obligated to disclose the presence of asbestos, manage its safe removal, and provide tenants with information on handling and reporting asbestos issues, with non-compliance leading to severe legal consequences.
  • Tenants should be proactive in communicating with landlords about asbestos concerns. In the case of emergencies or renovations involving asbestos, licensed professionals must be contacted for safe removal, with DIY strongly discouraged due to health risks.

Understanding Asbestos in Melbourne Rental Properties

Asbestos is a group of naturally occurring rock minerals with strong and heat-resistant asbestos fibres. These characteristics made it a popular choice in the construction industry, and it was extensively used in Melbourne’s residential buildings until the late 1980s. It’s not uncommon to find materials containing asbestos, such as asbestos cement sheets, bitumen-based waterproofing, and vinyl floor tiles, in rental properties built during this period.

Asbestos can be found in various areas of rental properties, including:

  • Exterior
  • Backyard
  • Wet areas
  • Internal spaces of the building

However, keep in mind that spotting asbestos visually is not straightforward. Therefore, if you suspect the presence of asbestos in your rental property, it’s advisable to seek a professional inspection for precise detection.

Identifying Potential Asbestos Hazards

Potential asbestos hazards can lurk in older residential buildings in unsuspecting places such as insulation, floor tiles, and paint. Identifying these potential hazards helps ensure a safe living environment. If you encounter any suspected asbestos, refrain from disturbing the material and immediately seek professional assistance.

Professionals utilize specific testing methods to ascertain the presence of asbestos in a material. This procedure typically involves testing suspected materials in a licensed asbestos or specialist laboratory. This step is integral to shielding residential tenants from potential asbestos exposure.

Health Risks Associated with Asbestos

Asbestos exposure can lead to the development of serious diseases, including mesothelioma and lung cancer. Mesothelioma can occur when asbestos fibres are ingested and become lodged in the body’s lining, leading to inflammation and scarring that can develop into aggressive cancer. Additionally, inhalation of asbestos fibres can increase the risk of lung cancer.

While short-term exposure to asbestos carries a relatively low risk, it can still lead to mesothelioma and other cancers, mainly if the exposure is intense. If you suspect that you have been exposed to asbestos, it is essential to consult a medical professional to evaluate your risk and decide on the next steps.

The Tenant-Landlord Relationship and Asbestos Disclosure

In Melbourne, landlords are legally obligated to disclose whether the rental property is listed on the loose-fill asbestos register as part of the residential tenancy agreement and standard entry condition report. This obligatory disclosure is a significant part of the tenant-landlord relationship and aids in managing asbestos risks.

If asbestos is removed from the property, a removal certificate should be obtained from a licensed asbestos removalist to confirm that the material has been safely and correctly removed. Additionally, tenants should be provided with information on how to handle and who to contact in case of encountering or suspect asbestos in their rental property.

Landlord’s Responsibility for Asbestos Management

As a Melbourne landlord, the safety of your rental properties concerning asbestos is paramount. Part of this responsibility includes providing tenants with information on how to handle and who to notify if they suspect the presence of asbestos in the rental property. Comprehending the potential hazards of asbestos and taking necessary actions to address any concerns is vital.

Failure to properly handle asbestos can result in serious legal consequences, including fines, imprisonment, and potential tenant lawsuits. While landlords have no specific requirement to inspect rental properties for asbestos regularly, they have a legal duty to ensure that the rented premises are maintained in good repair.

Proactive Steps for Tenants

As a tenant, you play an integral role in asbestos management. If you are worried about asbestos, contact your landlord or rental agent quickly and ask for relevant documentation, like air and dust reports. Also, remain vigilant for indications of deteriorating asbestos materials, such as crumbling insulation, damaged ceiling tiles, or fraying pipe insulation.

When you uncover asbestos, promptly contact your landlord or property manager and communicate the issue. Additionally, you can seek additional information on urgent repairs in rental properties by visiting the Consumer Affairs Victoria website.

Safe Handling of Asbestos in Rentals

While asbestos may seem daunting, safe handling is the key to managing it effectively. Should you anticipate home renovations or demolitions disturbing large quantities of asbestos cement materials or involving friable asbestos, you should contact a licensed asbestos removalist in Melbourne. Remember, a licensed asbestos removalist must always handle all non-friable asbestos beyond minor amounts and all handling of friable asbestos.

Asbestos Australia Removalist specialises in handling asbestos removal from straightforward to tough. Please speak to your agent and recommend they call us to discuss removal options.

When to Contact a Licensed Asbestos Removalist

Indicators that suggest the requirement for professional asbestos removal include:

  • The presence of friable asbestos
  • Conditions where there is more than 10sqm of non-friable (bonded) asbestos
  • Damaged or deteriorating asbestos materials which can release dangerous fibres into the air

In situations where you find yourself seeking advice, it’s crucial to seek medical advice, as they need professional attention.

A licensed asbestos removalist is responsible for the following:

  • The safe handling, elimination, and proper disposal of asbestos materials
  • Performing air monitoring
  • Conducting clearance inspections
  • Issuing clearance certificates, especially for tasks involving friable asbestos.

DIY Precautions

Sometimes, tenants may consider taking on minor repairs or renovations involving asbestos. However, DIY asbestos removal is not recommended due to the significant health risks it poses, including the potential to develop mesothelioma. If you choose to manage small tasks involving asbestos, it is crucial to equip yourself with appropriate protective gear like:

  • disposable coveralls
  • footwear
  • gloves
  • a mask
  • protective eye gear

However, if the asbestos-containing materials are:

  • damaged
  • disturbed
  • need to be removed, especially over large areas
  • from a damaged area

These situations pose a significant health risk and require professional intervention. You can find more information at

Dealing with Asbestos Emergencies

Despite our best efforts, sometimes emergencies happen. Knowing how to respond appropriately can make all the difference in the event of an asbestos disturbance or a fire. If you doubt the presence of asbestos in your rental property, avoid disturbing the material and consult the Victorian Government’s Asbestos in the Home website for guidance.

If you come into contact with asbestos dust, rinse your eyes with gently flowing lukewarm water for at least 5 minutes and seek medical attention promptly. The fire department in Melbourne plays a crucial role in providing information and support during an asbestos-related emergency.

Emergency Contact Protocol

In the event of suspected asbestos exposure, the first point of contact should be your landlord or their agent. You can refer to the Consumer Affairs Victoria website for guidance and details on urgent repairs related to health and safety threats such as asbestos.

In case of asbestos exposure, it’s advisable to contact the WorkSafe Advisory Service or visit the Asbestos in Victoria website. Reporting asbestos-related accidents to WorkSafe Victoria is mandatory, as non-compliance can lead to legal action.

Seeking Immediate Medical Advice

While asbestos damage is irreversible, seeking immediate medical advice following a potential exposure is critical. Medical experts specializing in the following areas focus on treating asbestos-related illnesses:

  • Medical oncology
  • Radiation oncology
  • Surgery
  • Pulmonology
  • Pathology

After potential asbestos exposure, it’s recommended to conduct several medical tests, including:

  • An initial physical examination focusing on the respiratory system
  • Baseline spirometry
  • Lung function assessments
  • A bronchoscopy to detect any asbestos fibres present within the lungs

While the damage cannot be undone, measures are available to help alleviate symptoms.

Legal Recourse for Tenants Exposed to Asbestos

Suppose tenants have been exposed to asbestos dust in their rental property and consequently developed any asbestos-related disease. In that case, they might be eligible to take legal action against their landlord for compensation. To strengthen their case, tenants should gather the following evidence:

  • Medical records demonstrating a disease associated with asbestos exposure
  • Documentation of the timing of the exposure
  • Proof of exposure to asbestos products

Having this evidence will help tenants in their pursuit of compensation.

Understanding Your Rights

As a tenant, understanding your rights is vital. You have the right to request information from your landlord about the presence of asbestos before signing a rental agreement. Upon suspicion of asbestos in the rental property, you are legally obliged to contact the relevant authorities immediately.

You can refer to the Consumer Affairs Victoria website for guidance on urgent repairs related to health and safety threats such as asbestos. Remember that the Residential Tenancies Act 1997, particularly section 68, requires landlords to uphold the maintenance of leased premises, including managing and preventing asbestos hazards.

Pursuing Compensation

Suppose you have been exposed to asbestos and contracted an asbestos-related disease. In that case, you can seek compensation for medical expenses, loss of earning capacity or income, and other claims. You can notify the rental provider of breaching their duty under section 208 of the Act.

The typical compensation settlement for asbestos-related diseases varies depending on the disease. For mesothelioma, the average claim is $300,000, as per the information provided by the Asbestos-related Claims Bill 2005. The required evidence to pursue an asbestos compensation claim includes medical reports confirming an asbestos-related condition and documentation proving asbestos exposure.


Understanding the presence of asbestos in rental properties, its potential health risks, and how to manage it safely is crucial for tenants and landlords. Effective communication, due diligence, and proactive measures can significantly reduce the risk of asbestos exposure.

Understanding your rights and the available legal recourse can provide a way forward in the unfortunate event of exposure. Remember, knowledge is power, and in the case of asbestos, it can be the key to maintaining a safe and healthy living environment.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I sue my landlord in Australia for asbestos exposure?

Yes, you can sue your landlord for asbestos exposure in Australia based on the responsibilities and rights outlined in renting and occupancy laws. Be sure to consult with a legal professional for guidance.

What should you do if you are exposed to asbestos in your home?

If you think you have found asbestos in your home, seek advice from an environmental health officer at your local council to determine the proper steps for removal or protection.

What are the health risks associated with asbestos exposure?

Asbestos exposure can lead to severe diseases such as mesothelioma and lung cancer, which pose significant health risks.

What are the landlord’s responsibilities regarding asbestos management?

As a landlord, it is your legal responsibility to ensure the safety of your rental properties in relation to asbestos. Make sure to comply with the regulations to protect your tenants.

Tommy Clappers

Tommy Clappers

Tommy Clappers is the Owner and Founder of Asbestos Australia Removalist specialising as a Class A & B Licensed Company with highly trained ticketed staff with over 25+ years in the industry in Friable & Non-Friable Commercial, Industrial & Domestic. He's well-skilled in all types of Asbestos Removal and Hazardous Materials. He's an expert in Encapsulation, Soil Remediation and Industrial Cleaning. He prides himself on creating safer environments for his team and his client's safety and ensuring every removal is safe and clean. He currently resides in Melbourne, Australia.

Posted By: Tommy Clappers

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