Why it's best to disclose asbestos floor tiles

Posted3/6/2022 7:00 AM

Q: Our home is about 60 years old house and has asbestos floor tiles under the carpets. Now that we're selling, our agent wants us to list these tiles on our disclosure statement. She says this kind of asbestos is not a health hazard, that removal is not required, but that disclosure is still necessary. Frankly, this makes no sense. If the material is safe and can be legally left in place, why is it necessary to wave a red flag at buyers?

A: Disclosing asbestos floor tiles is good advice. Rather than waving a red flag, it provides information that can protect you from future liability. Here are two examples of things that could happen if you were to forego this disclosure:


Example 1.) After closing escrow, your buyers decide to install new carpeting. The carpet layer says, "These appear to be asbestos floor tiles. Didn't the former owners disclose that to you? If not, you should call an attorney."

Example 2.) Your buyers decide to remodel the home, including new ceramic tile flooring. All of the old asbestos tiles must be removed to prepare the surface, and the bid for asbestos removal is over $5,000. Suddenly, the buyers are asking, "Why weren't we told about this? Let's call our attorney."

The bottom line with asbestos floor tiles isn't the health risk: it's the legal liability. Asbestos tiles are designated as nonfriable asbestos-containing material. This means they cannot be crumbled with normal hand pressure. Therefore, they do not release asbestos fibers into the air. However, when the tiles are removed, they can be damaged in ways that release asbestos fibers. For this reason, disclosure is essential to reduce the likelihood of future problems with regard to health, as well as liability.

Your agent should be complemented for suggesting this disclosure.

Q: Our new home is under construction, and the builder asked if we would like a list of "approved" home inspectors. He says they are all "certified," but we're afraid his home inspectors might be less likely to give us an honest opinion of the house, in order to get future referrals from the builder. Are we being overly suspicious?

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Should we find our own home inspector or trust the ones recommended by the builder?

A: Most home inspectors are not looking for referrals from builders. In fact, very few builders even recommend home inspectors. You may actually be dealing with an exceptionally honest builder. But just to be on the safe side, call the inspectors on the list and ask how long they have been in business; whether they are members of an established home inspector association, such as the American Society of Home Inspections; whether they are insured for errors and omissions, and ask them to send you a sample inspection report.

The bottom line is to find an inspector with many years of experience and a reputation for thorough, comprehensive disclosure.

• To write to Barry Stone, visit him on the web at www.housedetective.com, or write AMG, 1776 Jami Lee Court, Suite 218, San Luis Obispo, CA 94301.

© 2022, Action Coast Publishing

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