Asbestos, The Law, And You

This blog has covered many cases in Toronto, the GTA and beyond involving incompetent and unethical asbestos removal companies and operations, and the dangers they pose. But, what happens when you are the property owner? What are your obligations when it comes to asbestos in construction and renovation projects?

Ontario law specifies several designated substances along with asbestos, including acrylonitrile, arsenic, benzene, coke oven emissions, ethylene oxide, isocyanates, lead, mercury, silica, and vinyl chloride.

In the province of Ontario, the law regulating asbestos is called O.Reg. 278/05—Asbestos on Construction Projects and in Buildings and Repair Operations. Unlike some other provinces, the Ontario asbestos law makes a distinction between homeowners and landlords.

If you own a property,

  • Of more than four units;
  • Where you and your family members do not live.

Here, the law it clearly spelled out.

• Before beginning a project, the owner shall determine whether any designated substances are present at the project site and shall prepare a list of all designated substances at the site.
• The owner shall ensure that a prospective constructor of a project on the owner’s property has received a copy of the designated substance assessment.
• The owner who fails to comply with Section 30 is liable to the constructor and every contractor who suffers any loss or damages as the result of the subsequent discovery on the project of a designated substance that the owner ought reasonably to have known of but that not listed in the designated substance report.

However, if you own the property you live in, you are excluded from that obligation. The law specifically excludes the following:

(4) This Regulation does not apply to an owner of a private residence occupied by the owner or the owner’s family or to an owner of a residential building that contains not more than four dwelling units, one of which is occupied by the registered owner or family of the registered owner. O. Reg. 278/05, s. 2 (4).

Homeowners Beware
Exclusion from that specific part of the law doesn’t mean you’re off the hook, however. If you are plannning on renovations or any installation that will involve cutting into walls, ceilings or floors, you should be aware of possible legal liability.

Make no mistake – the exclusion does not remove legal liability you may incur as a home or property owner if someone is exposed to asbestos on your premises.

So, you’ve got contractors at your home and they discover asbestos in your attic. They sue. You’ve got homeowner’s liability insurance to take care of that, right?

Wrong again. Let’s talk about the Asbestos Exclusion.

The “Asbestos Exclusion”
Since the 1970s, when the threat of asbestos finally came to be widely known, property insurance companies have included a standard Asbestos Exclusion in their policies as a matter of routine. In short, it means they refuse liability for any damages caused by asbestos in your home.

The clause has been tested by court law, notably a case called 1604945 Ontario Inc. v. Lloyd’s Underwriters, [2010] where two landlords were sued by tenants for asbestos exposure that resulted from renovations. The respondents tried to involve their insurance coverage, and the insurance company successfully defended the exclusion. That means, when it comes to asbestos, you are on your own.

What Can You Do?
As a homeowner, if you plan on renovations, there are several steps you can take to protect yourself.

  • Review your insurance policy, and if necessary, discuss it with your agent or broker.
  • If you are a landlord, you should get legal advice from your lawyer.
  • Find out whether you have asbestos (or any other hazardous substances) on your property with a certified inspection.
  • An asbestos removal procedure provides true peace of mind.

That’s Where We Come In
If your home contains asbestos or ACM, we can help. You can trust the experienced asbestos removal experts and asbestos remediation experts at Green Stream Environmental to take care of your environmental issues. In the Toronto area contact Environmental at (416) 818-9414. Contact us for a quote today.

Featured in Mike Holmes’ magazine, HGTV’s Income Properties, W Network’s Love It Or List It and chosen by Homestars.com as “Best Toronto Asbestos Removal Company” based on customer ratings and reviews, GreenStream Environmental Services are fully-certified, trusted and insured professionals in the removal and disposal of commercial, industrial, institutional and residential asbestos, vermiculite and mould (hazardous and non-hazardous). Providing emergency service 24/7/365 for all of Toronto and the GTA (North York, Mississauga, Markham, Brampton, Scarborough, Ajax, Oshawa, and beyond) GreenStream has over 40 combined years of experience serving clients such as the City of Toronto, the Toronto District School Board and many more. For a free estimate in Toronto, the GTA and Southern Ontario, call today at 416-818-9414. You’ll be glad you did.