ACT News

Derelict, insecure Mr Fluffy house worries Yarralumla residents

A derelict Mr Fluffy house in Yarralumla that has stood empty for some years was secured on Wednesday after complaints from residents about the risk it posed to neighbours.

Questions have also been raised about whether its Mr Fluffy status was fully disclosed to everyone attending an auction in April, when it sold to a new owner, who plans demolition.

Two local residents have approached The Canberra Times with concerns about the sale and the safety of the empty home. Both attended the April auction where they said the auctioneer had not mentioned the Mr Fluffy status of the home to the group until the issue was raised by a bidder. The auctioneer is said by both to have been dismissive of the dangers posed. It seems the status of the home was known by bidders, with the agent insisting disclosure had been complete. But others attending the auction and open homes were not aware.

One resident, Michael, who did not want his last name used, said he had looked in the house on auction day. It was in very poor condition, with cracked walls, and the hole to the ceiling was open. Through the hole, he saw the beams were painted white, suggesting it had been included in the loose-fill asbestos removal program. 

ACT Work Safety Commissioner Mark McCabe said open homes should not be held for Mr Fluffy houses. 

"I just think it's totally inadvisable to have an open house for a Mr Fluffy house, especially as, in this case, this person claims that during the open house they had a look in the ceiling, and that's exactly what you wouldn't want happening," he said.

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At the very least anyone entering a Mr Fluffy house on the market should be warned before they entered, he said.

Another resident has been concerned about the risk of fire in the empty, unsecured house, which could spread contamination in the neighbourhood. She also pointed to damage to the roof some years ago when a tree fell on the roof and the State Emergency Service attended to patch up the damage, another source of potential exposure.

After being approached by Worksafe on Wednesday, the owner secured the house and installed a fence, pending demolition.

Mr McCabe said it appeared the house had been left open by an asbestos assessor and he was investigating to establish how that had happened.

He was working with the new owners to ensure the demolition was done safely – with approval and using licensed asbestos removalists.

This would be only the second demolition of a Mr Fluffy house since the asbestos crisis erupted, with most homeowners awaiting a decision from the federal and ACT governments on a buy-back and mass demolition.