R.C. from Fairfax County, Virginia writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
Are Condo HOA’s responsible for asbestos testing and abatement in individual units?
Mister Condo replies:
R.C., that is a great question. Developers haven’t built new homes with asbestos-based products in many years here in America. The question comes down to who is responsible for asbestos testing abatement in an older building and that answer is going to vary depending on how and why the testing and abatement are necessary. For the most part, the individual homeowners would bear the responsibility and cost of the abatement. In fact, the presence of asbestos should have been part of any home sale transaction so the buyer was aware that there was a potential for asbestos to be present in the home when they purchased it. However, what if the asbestos was used in construction behind the unit in an area owned in common by the association. While the asbestos is known to the association, unless there is an active problem or a remodeling project that is going to disturb the asbestos, the association likely has the option to leave the asbestos in place. I am not a fan of leaving known carcinogens in place but the cost, which will be shared equally among the homeowners may exorbitant and the risk of leaving the asbestos in place relatively low. It is a decision each association needs to make for itself, weighing the cost with the safety gained. Associations would also be wise to consult their insurer and their attorney once they know that asbestos is present in their association’s common areas. Individual unit owners should definitely remove the asbestos within their units at their earliest convenience. That is where the asbestos can do the most damage and the homeowner can remedy at their own expense to provide a healthier living environment. All the best!