If you’ve recently invested in a property and becoming a landlord, there’s a good chance you’ll eventually cross paths with some hazardous materials on the property. Asbestos, radon, and lead all are hazardous to one’s health and are common in homes. Whether you were informed or not about these hazards, it’s important to be aware of them as a landlord. Especially when you’re renting out your property to other tenants because then their health is in your hands.
It’s always a best practice to inquire about any potential hazards in the home during the buying process. Knowing about these can reduce the price of the property you are trying to buy, and allows you to estimate the cost to repair or replace parts of your property. This article will take a detailed look at a few household hazards that could be present in your property and how to notice them keep your tenants safe.
Despite restrictions, asbestos is still an issue in millions of homes and buildings around the UK. Although mostly present in homes that were built before the early 1980’s, the fire-resistant mineral was used primarily as an insulator. However, due to the strength of the asbestos fibres, they become airborne, inhaled, and lodged into the lung. Sadly, this can lead to many diseases such as asbestosis, mesothelioma cancer, and lung cancer. In addition, the UK has one of the highest rates of mesothelioma in the world, with about 2500 casualties in the last year.
As mentioned previously, asbestos was used all throughout the home in the past and is only harmful if airborne. When properly installed and enclosed, asbestos is not considered a health hazard. It is still a very high risk, however, as homes become worn down, the bigger the chance for asbestos to be exposed to tenants.
It is important to note to landlords that when asbestos becomes “friable” it is extremely dangerous. Friable asbestos will look or feel crumbly. If any asbestos is thought to be detected, it is best to hire a professional inspector to run an air quality test at your property.
The main areas of a property to have checked for asbestos are:
- Insulation in attics & walls
- Duct systems
- Under your floor
- Above ceiling tiles
- Siding & Roofing materials
- Window caulking
Radon is a radioactive gas that causes around 20,000 lung cancer cases annually. Unfortunately, it is impossible to see; taste or smell radon gas, and it could become a problem on your property. The chemical naturally occurs in the soil beneath your home, so it is impossible to stop all radon radiation. Everyone will be exposed to radon in safe levels at some point in their lives, but it becomes more dangerous in confined spaces inside your home.
Radon can enter your home in numerous ways including:
- Spaces between pipes & foundation
- Spaces in your flooring
- Any cracks in foundation walls & floors
- Fireplaces & Furnaces
- Open space in walls
- Well water
- Construction joints
To fix a radon problem on your property, it is very simple to invest in an at-home radon test kit for your property. The test is short or long-termed depending on which one you buy and collects a radon sample to let you know if there a problem with the hazard in your home.
If you do have a high concentration of radon in your home, the next step is to contact a certified radon mitigation/remediation specialist. This specialist can help you install an effective removal system that can eliminate up to 99% of radon in your home. In addition, seals will be applied to any cracks or openings where radon can enter through. Both testing and solutions are an easy fix to another hazardous problem that could have serious health effects down the road.
The last hazard featured on this list that landlords should monitor when investing in properties is lead. Lead, like asbestos, can be found in a variety of different sources throughout your property. It is more common in houses before 1980, due to the fact that lead paint was in most houses then. Exposure to large amounts of lead can result in lead poisoning, which affects a person’s brain, liver, kidney, and bones. It is also extremely harmful to any children or pregnant woman living on your property.
Sources of lead can be in different areas such as:
- Older homes & buildings
- Lead paint on walls
- In dust
- In certain home’s drinking water
As mentioned previously, the most common problem area for the lead on your property is in lead-based paint. It is important to remember the signs of lead-based paint, as in many houses the paint could be painted over with by regular paint. Deteriorating lead-based paint shows signs of damage through chipping, chalking, cracks, or dampness. This can be particularly harmful to children as the paint can chip off and become accessible to be chewed on.
If any paint that contains lead is found and in a damaged state, immediate attention should be required! You can either contact a lead removal consultant or invest in the necessary equipment to remove the lead from your property. Equipment would include a half respirator, plastic to make sure lead dust particles don’t get released airborne, and rubber gloves. Lastly, your property’s drinking water should be tested to ensure it has safe traces of lead.
The last thing you want as a landlord is for any of your tenants to be exposed to hazardous materials that can lead to major health concerns on your property.
Inquire about any of these hazards during the buying process if possible. Knowing can give you an advantage in price negotiations and allow you to work in the estimated price to fix these hazards.
These hazards can usually be tested for or discovered early for a relatively lower cost than later after a high level of exposure and potential health effects have occurred.