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I am renting a condo. After starting the heater, dusty air came out of the registers, so I called out a company to clean the ducts. They verified the ducts are 100% asbestos and cannot be cleaned. Is the owner of the property legally required to replace the asbestos with sheet metal ducts? If so, are their building / safety codes that apply in California?

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closed as off-topic by Niall C. Nov 21 '13 at 1:47

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We can't answer legal questions here. that's what lawyers are for. –  Grant Nov 20 '13 at 22:41
    
... and even if we were all lawyers, this would be highly location dependent. In the USA, landlord/tenant law is mostly at the state level, but counties and cities likely have additional relavent legislation. –  Henry Jackson Nov 21 '13 at 1:11
    
This question appears to be off-topic because it is about the legal responsibility for asbestos abatement. Please see the help center for more information about what types of questions are on-topic here. –  Niall C. Nov 21 '13 at 1:47
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1 Answer

If you're willing to trust internet sources, a landlord is not necessarily required to remove hazardous asbestos, but the asbestos may be cause to break your lease without penalty or possibly even live there rent free until he remediates the hazardous asbestos (the asbestos in your house may or may not be classified as 'hazardous' depending on many factors such as whether or not it's in the duct seams or just used outside the ductwork as insulation in an inaccessible space - if he disagrees with your determination about whether or not it's hazardous it may take a lawyer and a report from an expert (or experts) to come to an agreement).

Of course, if the asbestos is airborne (or likely to become so if disturbed), you probably don't want to live there for long regardless of the landlord's responsibilities. If it were locked up in a painted over popcorn ceiling or in vinyl floor tiles that's one thing, but if you've got air blowing through friable asbestos in the duct seams, I wouldn't want to live in that house until it was professionally removed (and maybe not even then since the fibers will be in every nook and cranny of the house).

The landlord was probably required to disclose the existence of asbestos to you before you moved in -- and he may have already done so in some clause of the lease.

If conditions allowed you to be exposed to airborne asbestos that the landlord knew (or should have known) about, then he may have some additional liability for your exposure to it.

But, as @Grant said above, this question is what lawyers are for so you should consult with a lawyer for advice that applies to your situation. And of course, specific local laws may apply.

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If there is an active health hazard that the landlord is aware of, he/she is probably required to resolve it. But exactly what constitutes a hazard may be hard to tell. –  Henry Jackson Nov 21 '13 at 1:13
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