Don’t Let ‘Mr Fluffy’ Kill Your Investment Or Your Tenant


Some Pre-1980s NSW Properties Carry A Dangerous Secret


Ok – so this month’s blog is a serious one.
The aim of this blog is just to let you know about a potentially serious issue that may affect a property you own, and to let you know that if you have properties in some of the areas where free testing for this issue is available, you might want to investigate further and take action before the deadline is up. This is an informative blog and is not meant to be a comprehensive account to be relied up on for this issue. Property owners need to do their own research, including contacting government authorities, certified professionals, and their legal advisors, if necessary.
This is a story of both opportunities and danger. And it could affect you or someone you might know. It’s also a good reminder that property investing can be full of dangers for the unwary – and opportunities for the savvy.
Some people will use this sort of situation as an excuse to not get into property investing. Or to avoid properties that may fit the criteria I’m going to talk about here, at all cost. Others will probably use this situation to try and scare investors into buying whatever it is they are selling, as well. I don’t want any of these things to occur.
My goal is help you see a potential issue and perhaps even capitalise on it and make some some great money. Or in the very least avoid making a big mistake, or not miss an opportunity for some ‘free protection’.
Now I only found out about this recently.
And it would have been easy for me to just ignore this issue.
I also didn’t have to write a blog on it, but I have. Blogging takes more time than what most people realise. And I give these away for free! (Hope you appreciate it!)
But I want to help my members and so I want to bring this to your attention.
There truly is a killer called “Mr Fluffy” out there.
And if he’s touched your property investment, then you have a very limited time to act to protect yourself.
Mr Fluffy is an asbestos roof-insulation product that was used up to the 1980s. It seems it’s origins were around Canberra but use extended to a number of towns across NSW and even into suburban Sydney.
Now this in itself isn’t that big an issue. Asbestos has been used in construction of Australian houses for decades and the truth is that most older houses have some asbestos in them. It can be safely removed and safely disposed of. It’s also generally safe in a solid form, and if not disturbed it’s generally not an issue.
The issue with Mr Fluffy is the product used was a ‘loose fill’ asbestos rather than contained in a solid material, and as such, once it’s in a house roof it has the potential to spread and get into the air and into the occupants, where there are potentially very serious medical concerns if people are exposed to it. The product itself may also not have been installed properly, with apparent concerns from government health and safety inspectors even back in the later 1960s when the product first came onto the market.
Now, politically, asbestos has not been a really big issue at the moment. For decades, the unpopularity of existing asbestos in houses has been up and down, but for the last few years it’s generally been left mostly alone by governments when it came to older houses.
(Compare this to the political storm that poorly-installed fire-prone modern insulation caused Peter Garret and our previous government a few years back.)
But something is changing.
Five decades on, and under mounting pressure from action groups, the NSW and ACT governments have raised awareness of Mr Fluffy and introduced a scheme to help detect houses that contain the potentially-deadly insulation product (often unbeknownst to it’s occupants or owners). For regions deemed to have a high risk for houses that have been contaminated (see links below), the NSW government now has a limited-time free testing period where the government will pay for the testing. There is also a Federal government budget apparently assigning $1B to buy and demolish the houses found to be affected.
But according to NSW Dept Fair Trading who is managing the scheme for NSW, the opportunity for free testing ends very soon. Home owners must register by 1st August 2016, if they wish to have the free testing done to their property. Whether houses detected after this period will still be available for the government Voluntary Purchase and Demolition Program scheme also is not apparent.
Some testing, results, and at-risk areas (not exhaustive)
From the testing done so far, in NSW, 112 properties including one block of 38 units have been identified as containing loose-fill asbestos. Most of the affected houses were in the Queanbeyan area, with the next highest in the Berrigan Shire, and then the Greater Hume Shire. But other areas have also produced positive results including Lithgow, Albury and even Ku-ring-gai in Sydney, as well as others.  All up, over 27,000 properties have so far registered for testing and with 112 positives and around 6,700 having tested negative, the rest remain to be tested.
If you have a property in one of the higher-risk areas (see link below), you have the opportunity to register for free testing until 1st August 2016, and eligibility for Voluntary Purchase and Demolition Program (see government website links for more information). If you have a property in a lower-risk but-still-deemed-potential-risk area, there is also limited free testing also possibly still available (and opportunity for Voluntary Purchase and Demolition Program). For pre-1980s houses in areas not deemed to be a risk, homeowners can also elect to pay for testing themselves and if a house is found to be affected by loose-fill asbestos then they can have the cost of testing reimbursed and be eligible for the Voluntary Purchase and Demolition Program (see link below for conditions).
Now, for those who do have pre-1980 houses, this is an issue worth knowing about. There may also be legal implications if your house tests positive, and if you do or don’t test before 1st August 2016, so if you have questions, make sure to consult legal advice.
It’s not something to panic about. It’s probably not a high risk that a pre-1980s property you own may be contaminated. But there may be a risk. And if there is, you can mitigate this risk with the right action.
A few useful links
For a report of all the tests carried out and results, here is the link.
For a list of the 28 Local Government Areas where a higher risk has been identified and free testing is available, follow this link.
For a list of the further 35 Local Government Areas deemed lower risk where a limited offer of free testing has been made available, here is the link.
For more information on the NSW Government Voluntary Purchase and Demolition Scheme, check out
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