Stop tenants being exposed to deadly Asbestos and ensure tenants rights.
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Asbestos is present in many Victorian rental properties. Tradesmen can perform work on rental properties that causes the asbestos to become friable and expose tenants to deadly dust. There are currently no rules about reporting the location of asbestos to tradesmen. Plumbers are not well trained in the identification of asbestos. Worksafe is not performing its role to protect tenants from asbestos exposure by tradesmen, and does not consider rental properties as "workplaces", denying regulatory jurisdiction for these accidents. Tenants are left at the mercy of property managers and landlords who have no guidelines about prioritising the welfare of the tenants. Who is to provide alternative accommodation when tenants have to evacuate? Who is to compensate tenants when their possessions are confiscated and disposed of because they are asbestos contaminated?
The testing and monitoring of asbestos is minimal and inadequate in rental properties. Public health is put at risk. Local Government is weak and shirks its responsibility to direct management of such accidents. There is a lack of clarity about if it is Local Government jurisdiction.
Traumatised tenants are expected to go to VCAT to demand their rights. But without clear legislation and Residential Tenancy Act there is no clarity at VCAT either. The burden for paying for Asbestos Hygeinists should not be put on the tenants.
Tenants should be looked after at least as thoroughly as workers in a workplace.
I discovered this was not the case in April 2017 when a plumber cut a large hole in the shower wall of my daughters rental property. The ensuing weeks were a dogs breakfast with no clear management plan. We went on a bureaucratic merri-go-round to find out what the tenants rights were. The plumber, property manager and landlord were fighting between themselves about liability, while the tenants, 3 young women Uni students were traumatised and homeless.
I never want this to happen to anyone else. To prevent these accidents the State Government must:
1. Ensure better training in Asbestos identification and management for tradespeople. Electricians, Plumbers, Handymen etc etc. Worksafe must ensure these standards. Penalties for poor practices and endangering tenants.
2. Landlords should be made to identify asbestos in the rental property and have this "asbestos report" as part of the tenancy agreement, and on file at the Property Manager. Every tradesman that goes to the rental property must see this asbestos report. Property Managers should be penalised for not ensuring safety of tenants.
3. Asbestos Exposure Management Plan for such accidents where tenants have clear rights and the responsibility for each step is set out. Including who pays for alternative accomodation and who compensates the tenants for lost rent and possessions lost. Any cost of medical testing associated with the asbestos exposure should be provided. This must occur in a timely manner.
Jurisdiction must be clarified. Is it Worksafe or Local Government who oversees this management plan? Or another Authority?
4. Asbestos testing is set at proper levels that ensure safety and minimum standards are set according to worlds best practice. If tenants want a second opinion they can access this. Tenants should not be forced to re-enter a contaminated property or re-expose themselves to risk from asbestos dust. Contaminated possessions should be professionally cleaned at no cost to the tenant. All potentially contaminated areas should have to be given clearance certificates. Appropriately trained asbestos hygeinists must communicate with the tenants to ensure full transparency and sharing of knowledge.
5. Tenants should be given advocacy and assistance to go to VCAT and more funding for such support must go to Tennats Union etc.
Sign this petition to Premier Daniel Andrews to demand his government to sort this mess out and clarify whose jurisdiction it is to ensure tenants are protected from deadly asbestos. And if an accident occurs the management plan is set out in the law. Ministers for Housing, Health, Consumer Affairs, Worksafe and Local Government must all participate in sorting new legislation that protects tenants. The complexity of this issue should not mean that it is swept under the carpet. Many Victorians live in rental properties that contain asbestos. They must be protected. Asbestos kills. Nobody should have to go through what my daughter, her house mates and our family went through. Please sign and share. I will not rest until this broken system is fixed.
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