What is required of a landlord if a home inspection states that a material potentially contains asbestos?

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What is required of a landlord if a home inspection states that a material potentially contains asbestos?

I am looking into buying a multifamily home. After the inspection, the seller of this home now states that the house is being sold as is and will not be making any repairs or conceding any money on the accepted offer. However, one of the issues that came up in the inspection is that the pipes in the basement are wrapped with a material that could be asbestos and not all of it is completely intact. Since there are tenants currently living in the units of this house, is the current landlord required to take any action to remedy the situation.

Asked on April 5, 2018 under Real Estate Law, Connecticut

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

It is possible that whomever owns the home will have to correct this condition if the city health or building department becomes aware of it and requires correction, or if the tenants become aware and take the appropriate legal action. However, a *buyer* has no legal right to require the seller to do anything: you can buy it as is and take care of the issue yourself, if you feel you are getting a good enough deal as to make this worthwhile; you can tell the seller you will not buy unless they fix it (or offer you so much off the price as to justify you taking on the cost, effort, etc.), and then it's up to them to do/offer you what you want (or else you abandon the purchase); or you can walk away from the sale--as buyer, those are your only options. You cannot enforce the tenant's rights for them, and you generally have legal rights about property you do not yet own.
Of course, walking away or demanding remediation or concessions presupposes that you have the right to do this. If there is an inspection contingency in the contract, you would be able to do these things (assuming you are still within the contingency period)--e.g. ask for remediation, then walk on the deal if it is not done. If you signed an "as is" contract, then you could only potentially get out of ("void") the deal IF you can show that the seller lied to you; that means you'd have to show that the seller knew about, or logically *must* have known (given the circumstances) of the asbestos issue. Lying about a known problem is fraud, and fraud can allow a contract to be voided. But lying requires knowledge--you cannot lie about something you were not aware of. If the seller did not know there was an asbestos issue, he did not commit fraud; and if he did not commit fraud, you would be locked into an "as is" (no inspection contingency) sale.


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