Selling your home can be a stressful and complex process, but it is crucial not to overlook the mandatory diagnostics to avoid any future problems. One of them is the asbestos diagnosis, which is an important element that can impact a potential buyer’s decision to buy. It is required for the sale of all real estate built before July 1, 1997 in order to prevent the risks associated with exposure to asbestos.
Asbestos and the risks it represents
Asbestos is a mineral with ultrafine fibers invisible in dust. Inhaled, these are revealed highly harmful to health, especially for the lungs. Exposure to this substance can indeed cause cancers such as mesothelioma or cancer of the pleura. These are serious diseases that can lead to early mortality. Asbestos can also cause other health problems, such as pulmonary fibrosis, breathing difficulties and heart problems.
While the frequency of contact increases the risk of disease, even minimal exposure can cause long-term health damage. In addition to health risks, asbestos can contaminate the environment. Its fibers can disperse through the air and end up in water and soil, causing environmental damage. Moreover, the manipulation of theasbestos can pose a risk for workers who are in contact in one way or another with this material.
What are the consequences if you do not carry out an asbestos diagnosis before a sale?
Failure to carry out the asbestos diagnosis before a sale exposes you to criminal and financial penalties. The Alur law has indeed made mandatory asbestos diagnosis before the sale
of a property in 2016 and imposes on all owners ofappend the report to the sales contract or lease for constructions before July 1997.
The risk of legal proceedings and criminal penalties
Failure to respect theobligation to carry out an asbestos diagnosis before the sale of a property may result in criminal penalties. The purchaser may take legal action in court or with the DGCCRF (General Directorate for Competition, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Prevention) for deception or failure to declare a hidden defect. You can incur up to 2 years in prison and be held liable for damage caused by asbestos to the health of third parties later.
The absence of an asbestos diagnosis can lead to significant financial penalties for the seller. Thus, you will incur a fine of up to 1500 euros. You may also be required to pay damages to buyers or tenants. For example, they can obtain a reduction in the sale price from the court or even request its cancellation. In addition, the absence of the asbestos diagnosis can also make the sale of your property more difficult. Knowledgeable buyers will be reluctant to purchase property that has not been properly inspected for the presence of asbestos. However, in case of presence of asbestos after diagnosis, the owner is just required to inform the purchaser. He is not obliged to carry out the work, unless an order from the prefect imposes it on him. This may be the case if there is a significant presence of asbestos.
Who can carry out the asbestos diagnosis?
THE asbestos diagnosis must be carried out by a qualified professional approved by COFRAC (French Accreditation Committee). He must have a specific certification which guarantees his skills in the detection and analysis of the presence of asbestos in buildings. He will thus be able to carry out an in-depth and reliable analysis of the materials likely to contain asbestos in your building, as well as an assessment of the associated risks and make recommendations to you. If, at the end of the analysis work, the approved expert does not detect any trace of asbestos, the diagnosis then has an unlimited period of validity.
On the other hand, if he confirms the presence of asbestos, the diagnosis will only be valid for 3 years. Skilled professionals to carry out an asbestos diagnosis are often engineers or building inspectors, occupational health and safety consultants, environmental specialists, etc. It should also be noted that with a view to maintaining skills, the certification granted to these professionals is only valid for 5 years. . Beyond that, they must pass the tests again.
What work should be done if asbestos is detected in the house?
When a asbestos diagnosis is positive, it is important to take steps to remove this potentially hazardous material. If it is a very high concentration, the asbestos removal work must be done within a maximum period of 36 months. Generally, work recommendations are classified into three different levels depending on whether the materials containing asbestos are friable or not.
The three levels of work
The first level N1 just involves periodic monitoring. THE materials containing asbestos can be kept in the home, but they must be maintained and any action that could damage them must be avoided. The second level N2 indicates that the materials are in a state of low degradation. Thus, it is recommended a measure of dusting for those which are friable and a restoration action for those which are not.
Dust measurement consists of taking samples with the aim of detecting or quantify asbestos fibers in the air. As for the third level, N=3, it refers to a state of advanced degradation of the materials. In this case, you are obliged to carry out elimination work for the friable materials and corrective work on the entire area of the non-friable materials to prevent the state of degradation from advancing. In either case, avoid intervening yourself and call on experts.
The steps in the event of asbestos removal work
The first step is to prepare the house. The objective is to put the furniture and various objects out of reach so as not to touch them. Then, the surfaces to be treated are dusted and the area is confined to prevent the asbestos fibers from spreading. After these preparation steps, the experts remove asbestos. At this level, different methods can be used to remove materials that contain asbestos. The walls and/or floors are then covered with a special coating. The intervention ends with careful cleaning of all surfaces and transport of the waste to a specialized treatment centre.