Asbestos was used in house building between the late 19th century to the late 20th century and so its presence in your property will depend on when the house was built. If you have a house that was originally constructed within this timeframe then it may well contain some asbestos unless it has since been removed. The use of this material is now banned in the UK because of its damaging health effects – something which may lead you to wonder if it is legal to sell your house with the knowledge that it contains asbestos.
What Is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibre that was widely used in construction and other industries until the late 1990s – it was most commonly used in buildings for insulation and was embedded into flooring and roofing, but was also sprayed on ceilings and walls for its insulation properties.
The three types of asbestos fibres most commonly used in the UK are blue (crocidolite), brown (amosite) and white (chrysotile).
We now know of the harmful health effects of asbestos and so have ceased to use it – but if asbestos is still in your house, does it pose a real threat? Luckily, it can generally be said that if asbestos inside buildings remains intact, it poses very little risk. It’s only when it is damaged or disturbed that tiny asbestos fibres can be released into the air and enter your lungs when breathing, inhaling asbestos fibres can damage your lungs and lining.
If you worked in an industry such as building or construction, particularly from the 1970s to 1990s, you may have been exposed to asbestos. However, nowadays you’re only likely to come into contact with asbestos if it is disturbed or damaged in old buildings and to a much lesser extent.
Is It Legal to Sell a House with Asbestos?
It is legal in the UK to sell a house that contains asbestos. This is because millions of homes across the country contain asbestos as a common building material, so it would be impractical to term all these of these properties illegal to sell. In fact, your home has a 50% chance of containing asbestos.
Furthermore, it is legal because it generally does not pose a direct health threat, though of course in extreme cases exposure to asbestos fibres can cause diseases such as asbestosis, mesothelioma, pleural disease and asbestos-related lung cancer, but these all remain relatively rare cases.
Nonetheless, though it is legal to sell your house with asbestos its presence may stop a potential buyer from obtaining a mortgage to buy it if it exists in extreme cases. Usually, though houses that contain asbestos are generally mortgageable as with any other house. It will depend on the extent and condition of the asbestos.
What Should I Do If Want to Sell a House with Asbestos?
The good news is that as long as the asbestos is not in a dangerous state it should not stop you from selling your house. House buyers are generally still willing to buy houses with asbestos if it is in a safe and stable condition.
On the other hand, asbestos can, of course, make your house less attractive to buyers and this can potentially stop you from selling your house if it is widespread and in a dangerous state. Should a potential buyer of your house have a survey carried out on it and the surveyor indicates that there is asbestos present in your house, the buyer may decide they no longer wish to go forward with the purchase.
They may decide this if there is a really widespread of asbestos, or if the buyer is vulnerable to lung diseases and decides your property is too great a risk for them to reside in. Or perhaps they simply do not wish to undertake the task of getting rid of the asbestos.
If no buyer is willing to buy your house as a result of the asbestos, it could cause a sale to fall through and it could even become unsellable. Should this happen you may need to have the asbestos in your house removed before it can be sold or negotiate a reduction in price with a potential buyer because of the asbestos.
Even if it does not stop the sale, asbestos in your home could potentially delay the sale for many months while it is investigated, and a solution is found. Because asbestos always poses the risk that your house may not sell as quickly (or at all in extreme cases), it may be the better option for you to simply remove it if you have knowledge of it in your home and want your house to sell fast.
If you do decide to remove the asbestos, an asbestos survey is the best way of showing whether asbestos in your home needs to be removed or treated or not. When it comes to removing or treating asbestos this should not be considered as a simple DIY job. It should be done by expert asbestos removal and disposal contractors who are licensed to handle the material.
This may help your house to be snapped up off the market quicker and with more ease, and will ensure that both the current residents and future residences of the property are kept safe from any of the potential dangers asbestos may pose to the homeowner.