Pennsylvania Asbestos Disclosure
Pennsylvania Asbestos Disclosure
Asbestos is a popular material used in constructing buildings due to its unique qualities, including resistance to heat and electricity. Asbestos can be found in many materials used in construction, such as roofing and siding shingles, vinyl floor tiles, textured paint and patching compounds used on ceilings and walls, attic, and wall insulation produced containing vermiculite.
During use, demolitions, repair, remodeling, building, or home maintenance, asbestos fibers get released into the air and enter the human body through inhalation. Over the years, studies have revealed that asbestos exposure can put the health of humans at risk. The adverse effects of asbestos led to the establishment of Pennsylvania mesothelioma and asbestos laws. The regulations control the use and handling of asbestos within state limits, ultimately protecting residents from asbestos exposure. Additionally, asbestos regulations in Pennsylvania protect workers involved with asbestos and protect the public.
According to the provisions of federal laws, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also oversees and regulates asbestos use, ultimately protecting the public from the adverse impact of asbestos under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Act of 1976.
Pennsylvania Asbestos Disclosure Laws
The Department of Labor and Industry enacted the Pennsylvania Asbestos Occupations Accreditation and Certification Act of 1990. According to the act, workers who interfere with asbestos must submit a five-day notification ahead of any asbestos project.
Pennsylvania asbestos disclosure laws can be found in:
- 68 Pa.C.S. §§ 7301-7314, which consists of disclosure laws on hazardous substances, such as asbestos, for sellers in Pennsylvania. It discusses the closure form that a seller must deliver to a buyer before completing the transaction.
- The Seller's Property Disclosure Statement, according to the Pennsylvania Code.
- The Residential Real Estate Transfers Law.
Do You Have to Disclose Asbestos When Selling a House in Pennsylvania?
Per 68 Pa.C.S. §§ 7301-7314, anyone selling a house in Pennsylvania must reveal the presence of hazardous substances, including asbestos. As a general rule in Pennsylvania, sellers must submit a Property Disclosure Statement provided by the State Real Estate Commission. The seller is required to present a signed and dated copy of the property disclosure statement before the signing of the property transfer agreement by both parties.
Any seller who intentionally fails to disclose the presence of asbestos when selling a house has violated the law and gives the buyer the power to take legal action. However, a seller who omits asbestos disclosure or gives inaccurate information about the presence of asbestos in a house as a result of the information supplied by certified professionals such as an inspector may be protected from liability. The law mandates that sellers disclose only what they know.
Does Asbestos Affect a Property's Value in Pennsylvania?
Yes, asbestos can affect a property's value in Pennsylvania. As a material defect and hazardous substance, sellers are obliged to disclose the presence of asbestos in a house to prospective buyers. It is safe to say this may discourage a lot of interested buyers. Apart from the health risks, buying properties with asbestos-containing materials might have several cost implications. The process of hiring certified asbestos abatement companies or licensed inspectors can also result in additional expenses. Unfortunately for a seller, the buyer may negotiate the added cost into the purchase agreement, which means the seller may have to sell the property at a lesser value.
How to Disclose Asbestos on a Property
While not all US states require homeowners or sellers to disclose asbestos on their properties, it is mandatory in Pennsylvania. At the same time, house sellers must disclose available asbestos or asbestos-containing materials on a property before they complete the purchase agreement with a prospective buyer.
Additionally, anyone whose work is related to asbestos (inspector, contractor, project designer. Management planner, worker, and supervisor) must notify the Department of Labor and Industry before embarking on the project. In order to disclose asbestos on a property in Pennsylvania, the seller or home owner must obtain and complete an asbestos disclosure form. The form should then be presented to the prospective buyer before the sale is complete.
Pennsylvania Asbestos Disclosure Form
A property seller in Pennsylvania is mandated to present a Seller's Property Disclosure Statement to a prospective buyer during the transaction. The disclosure statement must be filled out before both parties sign off on the purchase agreement. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania explains, in detail, the minimum disclosures that a seller must reveal to a potential buyer. The aim of the disclosure statement is to enforce the seller's compliance in disclosure requirements and also, to help the buyer evaluate the property and arrive at a decision.
The disclosure statement does not relieve sellers of the obligation to mention any other material defects that may not be indicated on the form. In case anything is not included in questions, there is a section for "Additional Material Defects" to ensure complete transparency between the seller and the buyer. Also, the form compels sellers to state all the information they have on the property's condition as of the signed dates.
Typically, a Seller's Property Disclosure Statement in Pennsylvania consists of a series of polar questions, and it seeks information on asbestos and other hazardous substances. Before the buyer signs the agreement of transfer, the seller must deliver the disclosure form to the person by personal delivery, certified mail, or other approved delivery methods.
Can You Sue for not Disclosing Asbestos on a Property in Pennsylvania?
A property buyer in Pennsylvania has the right to sue the seller for not disclosing asbestos on a property. Before the buyer and seller sign the purchase agreement of a property, the seller must furnish the buyer with written notice of material defects and present hazardous substances like asbestos, according to Pennsylvania Seller Disclosures. Failure to disclose known material defects during a transaction can make the seller responsible for not disclosing asbestos on the property before the agreement was sealed.
A property buyer in Pennsylvania has the right to sue the following persons for not disclosing asbestos on a property.
- Selling broker/agent: if there is evidence that the selling broker willingly concealed disclosing asbestos on the property, the buyer may take legal action. 68 Pa.C.S.§ 7310 explains that a buyer may sue the selling broker or agent if the agent had actual knowledge of the asbestos and failed to disclose it to the buyer or the agent is aware of a misrepresentation of the presence of asbestos on the property.
- Home inspector: a home inspector's report must contain a description of any material defects discovered during the inspection. Hence, a buyer may sue the inspectors for errors and omissions in the performance of their duties.
Most importantly, the victim must be able to prove that the person being sued is aware of the defect and intentionally concealed the information. With legal actions, the seller may have to renegotiate or reimburse the victim. Also, the matter may result in remediation or other forms of settlement.
How to Sue a Seller for not Disclosing Asbestos on a Property in Pennsylvania
Complainants are advised to confirm that the homeowners were indeed aware of asbestos and deliberately did not disclose the information before taking any legal step. After confirmation, the buyer must gather evidence like taking pictures without touching or interfering with the asbestos or asbestos-containing materials.
To sue for failure to disclose asbestos in Pennsylvania, contact a local asbestos attorney to handle the case. The legal practitioner will advise if it is a suable matter with admissible evidence. The buyer will also be well informed of all legal rights and options by hiring a skilled and experienced attorney.
On the other hand, civil cases like this are designed to work without hiring attorneys. Victims of asbestos concealment on their properties may file a lawsuit with a Magisterial District Judge Court in Pennsylvania.