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6 Environmental Health Hazards That Can Be A Liability Nightmare
Should you be aware of any environmental health hazards that exist in the house, it is your duty not just as a landlord, but as a person as well, to inform the tenants.
Although there are times where you can argue that you had no knowledge of the problem and thus not negligent, what kind of a landlord are you if you don’t even know what is going on in your properties.
Being in business, seldom will you get away with the good old “I didn’t know” excuse. If the law allows you to get away with such excuses, you might as well go sell pirated music and movies, then claim that you didn’t know it was illegal.
Here are 6 big environmental hazards that has been a focus in recent years. This is just a summary of them. You are advised to do your own research about them.
Studies have shown that inhaling asbestos greatly increases the risk of contracting cancer.
In fact, it has been widely reported that first responders to September 11 suffered various health problems years later. This was because materials used to build the World Trade Center contained a huge amount of asbestos.
When remodeling or any types of work go on in a house containing asbestos, there is a tendency for it to enter the air. And when people breathe it into their lungs, it can result in heath problems.
Buildings, houses, and a huge amount of real estate built before the late-1970s contain asbestos. This material is often used for purposes such as insulation.
The OSHA has certain guidelines and requirements for rental property regarding asbestos. You should read it up.
If you suspect that a property of yours might contain asbestos, you need to notify the tenants. And in certain cases, you even need to conduct tests to test for them.
The only way to remove this nightmare is to get a licensed inspector to test and endorse the property as asbestos-free.
Don’t forget that you are responsible as a landlord to make the place habitable.
The 2 most common places where hazardous lead can be found is in lead-based paint and water pipes made of lead. These can be detrimental to health especially to children.
Houses constructed before 1978 are likely to contain lead one way or another.
Under federal law, landlords are required to inform tenants of the presence of lead before signing a lease or renewing it.
What’s more, you need to include a document of disclosure with rental agreements so that it can be recorded that the condition has been made known to tenants. The EPA actually has a template for this disclosure that you can refer to.
3) Toxic mold
Most types of mold are harmless. But when the mold in a house is toxic, it can cause health issues like asthma nausea, rashes, etc.
Unless you are a scientist who works with organic material on a daily basis, the odds are that you cannot tell whether the mold you have in the basement is the toxic kind.
Depending on local law, how mold should be managed can vary. So do check up on your responsibilities as a landlord.
The best thing you can do is to prevent them in the first place.
4) Carbon monoxide
Even in this modern age, hundreds of deaths due to carbon monoxide are recorded in the United States each year.
Carbon monoxide is a colorless and odorless gas that can cause death within a matter of hours. Because it is hard to detect with human sense, victims often don’t even know when they are being poisoned.
This gas is a byproduct of fuel combustion from appliances. Because of this, carbon monoxide cannot be rectified… unless you remove everything in a house and leave it bare of all appliances.
So make sure that an apartment is properly ventilated. Don’t keep the doors and windows sealed at all times.
Radon is a radioactive gas that can cause lung cancer. And you don’t need to be located near a nuclear plant to find it in the house because it is a naturally occurring gas.
Contaminated is cause by a house sitting on soil that contains uranium deposits.
While you are not legally obligated to test for radon, you should still do it if the area is known to have this problem.
Radon issues can usually be solved inexpensively. So if you have knowledge of such a problem, don’t be a cheapskate. Just take measures to rectify it.
And don’t keep this information from your tenants!
If you have never had a problem with bedbugs, good for you. You are one lucky fella. Keep it up.
Bedbugs are annoying pests that hide in every place you can think of in a house. And because they feed on blood they like to reside in pillows, sofas, mattresses, furniture, etc. Once, I’ve even found them hiding on the buttons of the remote control!
The silver lining (if any) is that bedbug infestations are not lethal. They don’t carry diseases that infect human beings as opposed to rabies from dogs. They pretty much bite you over and over again making you wonder why you are itching all over your body.
And because they are deceptively fast, by the time you are scratching your thigh, it has already gone back to it’s hiding place.
Now even though they do not cause severe injury or health problems, it does not mean that you are clear of liability.
If you knew about the problem and made no attempt to inform a tenant of it, you could be sued for damages when things go south.
And even if it used to be a problem and you had hired a pest control company to fix it, you still need to tell your tenants about it. This is because bedbugs are tough to fully exterminate and can linger… waiting for a good time to make a comeback.
Remember that this is just an overview informing you about what environmental health hazards to watch out for as a landlord. This is even if you feel liability insurance coverage gives you a little more peace of mind. You have to find more information from the relevant authorities and professionals should you need to get a more in-depth understanding of these issues.