Selling a house with asbestos ceilings

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Selling a house with asbestos ceilings

Earlier this month, I purchased a condo that was built in late 1960s. I had a home inspector for inspecting condo before sale. It has a popcorn ceiling which turns out has 2.3 asbestos in it. I was not informed by either the inspector or the real estate agent that this popcorn ceiling can have asbestos. Do I have any right to ask for an abatement for the cost coverage? Is there a real estate law that says I should have been informed of the possibility of asbestos in the ceiling before we purchased? Now that I know there is asbestos do I have to inform future buyers or renters of this?

Asked on September 26, 2019 under Real Estate Law, Vermont

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

If the seller knew or logically under the circumstances (given the evidence, etc. which was available to them) must have known of the asbestos, then the seller was legally obligated to disclose it; and if they failed to disclose known asbestos, then they committed fraud, and fraud would provide a basis for suing for compensation, such as the cost to remediate the situation. But the key is, the seller must have had knowledge: there is no liability if the seller was ignorant of the asbestos, since there is no fault or wrongdoing in not disclosing that of which you are not aware. So to hold that the seller liable, you would have to be able to show their liability.
The real estate agent would not be liable: they have no disclosure obligations (the seller has the obligations, as discussed above, not them).
A home inspector does not perform a chemical test or anything similar on the ceiling top determine whether it has asbestos or not: that is not part of their job. Therefore, the inspector would not be liable either.
The only one you can potentially hold liable is the seller, if the seller had knowledge or logically must have had knowledge of the asbestos.
 


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