Profile picture for jadedea

Asbestos? Check "I don't know" to avoid liability.....

Could use some advice from anyone in Maryland in the Prince Georges County area before I start making some phone calls. I remember the sellers who sold my home (company that flips houses) checked I don't know on whether they knew if the house had asbestos tiles, walls & anything else since the house was built in 1951 in the mortgage paperwork. My real estate agent says they check that to avoid liability but the house should be fine because most homes in my area have been renovated many times & had the asbestos removed by the time people like me move in.
To give an overview of the house, it's a split level, all rooms have carpet & the hallways, living & dining room & kitchen have wooden floors. The basement/utility room & bathrooms have tiles. Now the small hallway at the foot of the stairs of the basement is carpeted which is weird. It would have made sense to either continue the wooden floors from or had the ceramic tiling in, but carpet?! So at the time I left it to odd & unusual.
Fast forward a few months. I have cats, & 1 of them was sick & was using the bathroom outside the litter box & on the carpet in that small hallway repeatedly. Try as I may I was unable to save the carpet & had to rip it out. Low & behold I see, barely hidden under 1-2 layers of ripped & torn 1970s linoleum tiles, dark blue with white streaks tiles. I had a friend of mine confirm that it was asbestos tile.

Continued in comments due to post lengths....
  • June 21 2012 - Hyattsville
  • 0
    0Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

Be a Good Neighbor. Be respectful and on-topic. No spam or self-promotion! See our Good Neighbor Policy.

 
 

Answers (12)

Profile picture for jadedea
.....................................The rest of my post.......................................

So I have been looking up ways to cover up the tile for now without spending $$$. Apparently you can do what previous owners & the house flippers had done; linoleum or carpet. That's when it dawned on me. They had to have known the asbestos tiles was there because if they didn't they would have continued the wooden flooring from the upper level or continued the ceramic tiles from the utility room into the hallway. Now it made sense why there was carpet in that hallway. Everything was standard, uniform & the same, except that hallway. It's like watching a blind person look both ways before crossing. If they didn't know, why did they take the safe & cautious route of laying down carpet in a hallway especially when they didn't do it in the other hallway & would have saved money overall in the flipping process? See where I'm getting at?
I do plan on having a professional verify its asbestos tiles & will go from there but I wanted to know if there is a case here? I got my house April last year under a VA loan if that helps.
  • June 21 2012
  • 0Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

Profile picture for the_country_hick
My thought would be you likely have no case. You do not know who put the carpet in. You do not know when it was put in. Even if you did know you do not know for sure the previous owners knew the tiles under it were in fact asbestos. The previous owners may have suspected they were asbestos but did not test to be sure. That way they never knew for a fact they were asbestos.

If you could find someone who had looked at the house and already tested and said the tiles were in fact asbestos for the previous owner you would have a case. Odds are greatly against that being provable.
  • June 21 2012
  • 0Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

Profile picture for Cindy Quinton
I agree with Dan, I see no way to prove they knew it was there under layers of other material. Now, they may have left the old linoleum and even carpeted over it in fear that it was there, but thinking something is possible and KNOWING are two different things.

I guess you have to weigh the cost of removal against the cost of a lawyer...and at least if you pay for removal it will be a for sure done deal at the end.
  • June 21 2012
  • 0Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

Profile picture for jadedea
The house flippers put the carpet in. They said they put it in, the whole house has been renovated from top to bottom, and you can tell. Its the white standard, builders grade I think they call it, thin carpet but I see what you are saying. I just thought that a company that does this for a living would know what asbestos tiles look like, like they would know what carpenter ants are, mold, water damage, etc, etc, etc. Maybe I'm watching too many house flipping shows.
  • June 21 2012
  • 0Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

Profile picture for jadedea
The 1-2 layers of linoleum were stacked on each other but you can tell it wasn't the first time but the majority of that hallway the tile that was exposed was dark blue, the apparent asbestos tile. My friend is an electrician and he knew it was asbestos. This is where I am wondering if there is a case. How is it my friend can tell but people who are supposed to know can't or are saying they don't know, but I guess its about time and money and cutting corners. 
  • June 21 2012
  • 0Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

Profile picture for jadedea
So its perfectly legal to leave a possible hazard and not tell anyone? I thought you were supposed to report the risk and leave it up to home owner to make the decision?

Also I appreciate the quick replies and I do see how it will be hard to prove. I am researching now for some inspectors to have the tile tested. Where do I search first? 
  • June 21 2012
  • 0Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

Asbestos is not considered a hazard unless it's disturbed (torn up, sanded, abraded, etc) And the only way to determine whether or not there is asbestos in tile is having it tested. So if they didn't have it tested (no paper trail of proof), there's little chance of proving they knew that it was asbestos tile. They probably erred on the side of caution by covering the tile rather than paying to have it remediated by an approved asbestos contractor. The EPA has significantly strengthened the law in regards to asbestos removal - which is why it's not considered a project for the do it yourselfer or even most home flippers.
  • June 21 2012
  • 1Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

I'm not sure why you're questioning your real estate agent, but given that you think there might be asbestos, then I suggest disclosing that the tiles may contain asbestos.

All the best,
  • June 21 2012
  • 0Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

Profile picture for blue screen exile
"My real estate agent says  '".. but the house should be fine because most homes in my area have been renovated many times & had the asbestos removed by the time people like me move in." " -

If that is really what your agent stated (which is likely impossible to prove since you didn't record it), then your agent intentionally lied to you.  Remodeling rarely removes all the asbestos as there is no requirement to remove it.  More than likely there are lots of other places that have asbestos too.  I don't know what kind of hardwood floors you have, but I wouldn't doubt that there might be asbestos under some of those as well.  And I would suspect that there would be asbestos in some HVAC duct insulation, as well as in the heater vent pipe.

The big problem with asbestos now is that the owner that has it "removed" and taken to a hazardous waste landfill is required to sign a statement saying the person/party that has the asbestos is the "owner" of the asbestos (for liability purposes) forever, even though in the landfill.

Though there is no economic impact of that presently, such a signed statement could become an economic impact in the future with future environmental protection legislation.
  • June 22 2012
  • 0Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

Profile picture for jadedea
I was questioning my real estate agent because it was one of the many pieces of paperwork I had to sign or cosign with the previous owner in my mortgage package. This may be specific to a VA loan or specific to the area I am in which is why I mentioned it at the time.

Thanks for the replies!
  • June 22 2012
  • 0Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

Profile picture for blue screen exile
One always needs to sign the "disclosure statement", but only to confirm that it was received and read.

And there is almost no liability for the party that provides the disclosure statement, as it is only "to the best of their knowledge at the time".

One of the reasons for home inspections is to turn up such issues that may be of future concern.  But home inspectors are not liable for not telling you everything either.  And they have all kinds of exclusions for items that were not visible at the time of the inspection.  They can only tell you what they can see, from their experience.
  • June 22 2012
  • 0Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

Profile picture for blue screen exile
"I am researching now for some inspectors to have the tile tested." -

If it is 9" square vinyl or linoleum, it has asbestos in it and it is a waste of money to have them tested.  You either seal them in place, or you pay for hazardous waste removal.  If they were installed in the 1960's, the adhesive used was quite good, and it will be extremely difficult to get them up anyway, which is likely the real reason they were left.
  • June 22 2012
  • 0Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.