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Former tenants and owners given access to Mr Fluffy details

Date

Kirsten Lawson

NSW state MP Steve Whan✓ said he had been contacted previously by several residents in Jindabyne and Queanbeyan.

NSW state MP Steve Whan✓ said he had been contacted previously by several residents in Jindabyne and Queanbeyan.

The Government has shifted ground on allowing former tenants and owners access to details about Mr Fluffy homes, saying it will accept a statutory declaration as proof someone lived in a house.

A spokesperson for the Asbestos Taskforce said authorities had widened the acceptable proofs to include a statutory declaration, based on feedback on Monday morning. Former tenants or owners can also produce a rates notice, an electricity, gas or water bill, a rental statement, or seek permission from the home owner.

You then fill out a form available online and lodge it in person or by email with the Environment and Planning Directorate.

The government has not released the list of 1000-plus Canberra homes that contained the dangerous loose-fill asbestos insulation, despite freedom of information requests, because the release would breach the privacy of home owners. Owners are worried about their homes being targeted, including those that now stand empty with people forced to leave, and about their privacy, and their house values.

If a decision is made to demolish the houses, with taskforce head Andrew Kefford's advice on this due with the government by the end of next week at latest, authorities have suggested the list might be released since much of the justification for withholding it will become moot.

In the meantime, the system begins on Monday for former tenants to track down the information.

Mr Kefford said the taskforce had balanced privacy with the importance of providing the information to people.

The requests are processed free of charge.

He said before making an application, tenants should consider the age of the home they had lived in; Mr Fluffy stopped installing the asbestos in 1978 or 1979. Tenants should also consider simply asking their former landlord or real estate agent.

Several former owners and tenants were registered with the taskforce, he said.

Also this week, NSW joins the hunt for Mr Fluffy houses after the NSW government announced on Friday that residents in 14 local government areas could request a free test to check whether their roof spaces contained the insulation.

The 14 areas do not include Wollongong or Newcastle, where residents have told The Canberra Times they believe the material was pumped into ceilings in the 1970s, but take in parts of the south coast, Snowy Mountains, areas around Albury near the Victorian border, Young, and areas near Canberra.

NSW state MP Steve Whan told the NSW Parliament last week that he had been contacted previously by several residents in Jindabyne and Queanbeyan.

Given the ACT response, it was no longer tenable for the NSW government to suggest it was safe to live in homes where the asbestos still remained in ceilings, he said.

NSW's advice that it was safe so long as the ceiling was sealed off relied on a 1993 study of seven homes in Queanbeyan, Mr Whan said. But homes were getting older, some had been renovated and others had changed hands, with new owners not knowing the asbestos history of their homes.

"It's been over 20 years now since that advice which the NSW Department of Health is still relying on was actually formulated," he told the NSW Parliament last week. "It is simply not adequate any more to rely on a 21-year-old study to say that these homes are safe."

Mr Whan said Friday's announcement was a step in the right direction, but was flawed because it relied on NSW residents coming forward for the voluntary assessments.

"More importantly, it leaves NSW still providing families with advice that is way out of step with the messages coming from Canberra and the majority of independent experts," he said, urging the government to review its advice that the asbestos was safe to live with.

“Until recently the ACT also thought Mr Fluffy houses were safe. Now we are seeing them demolished. Clearly the situation has changed in recent months as new information emerges, and government must respond accordingly.”

16 comments so far

  • We lived in a house in Duffy from 1981-88. It may have been a Mr Fluffy house, but that was three three moves and several clean-ups ago. I don't have the bits of paper that prove that I was a resident, and it seems that the Government is not helping me to check on the health of me and my family.

    Commenter
    Kerry
    Date and time
    August 18, 2014, 8:34AM
    • And who keeps documentation going back that far, or for that matter what if the person wishing to enquire wasn't the person holding the lease/ownership? Sorry, but this denial of information on potential health issues is unacceptable.

      Commenter
      John
      Location
      Canberra
      Date and time
      August 18, 2014, 8:42AM
      • Wow what a great idea. Who's got rent receipts or bills from over 35 years ago proving where they rented? I can't even remember the name of some of the streets where I rented let alone the number of the house. The best I can do is remember the suburb.

        Commenter
        Sam
        Date and time
        August 18, 2014, 8:49AM
        • We lived in Downer and Latham in the 1970's - my parents owned the houses but are no longer alive - I have lung function problems - how do I find out if this is a possible contributing factor ?

          Commenter
          MST
          Date and time
          August 18, 2014, 9:44AM
          • apply to ACT education for your school records, they may record your addresses.

            Commenter
            Aelfrida
            Location
            Canberra
            Date and time
            August 18, 2014, 6:39PM
        • I wonder if the bank still has my direct deposit information from 16 years ago on the account I closed 14 years ago, maybe I could chase down the long since disappeared property manager or home owner?
          This A.C.T government initiative to protect past & present tenants of Mr fluffy houses is so un-workable it must be a poor joke aimed to offend.
          Tenants are the most at risk from Mr fluffy asbestos, We all know how keen lessors or landlords are to spend money on fixing tiny cracks leading into the ceiling space or wall cavities in their rental property.
          As for asking the lessor or real-estate agent, is it, or was it a Mr Fuffy house...get real...would you like that in writing as well?

          Commenter
          dusty
          Date and time
          August 18, 2014, 10:03AM
          • Apparently the Contracts for Sale of houses known to have contained Mr Fluffy raw Asbestos may incude a waiver in their fine print ??
            (One R.E.Agent bought a supposedly remediated Mr Fluffy Canberra house, only to discover later during extensive renovations that it hadn't been done thoroughly enough. Large quantities of loose ceiling-insulation Asbestos had overflowed / leaked down into the wall-cavities, when only the roof space had been supposedly "remediated".)
            However, given the existence of large quantities of relatively-safer Bonded Asbestos in most 1950s and 1960s homes in cladding sheets and (corrugated) roofing, perhaps that bit of legalese may exist in all such Sale Contracts ??

            Commenter
            Get Real Estate
            Location
            2600
            Date and time
            August 18, 2014, 10:46PM
        • pitty you can't even send an e-mail to that address

          Commenter
          Rod
          Date and time
          August 18, 2014, 10:38AM
          • YEP, Comes up as a blank page, a completely dead link... looks like we'll have to waste 30 minutes or more of our lives we will never get back calling Canberra connect....who will of course have to call us back.

            Commenter
            dusty
            Date and time
            August 18, 2014, 5:36PM
        • The other way may be more workable for past tenants is for the A.C.T government to accept a signed statutory declaration stating that the person seeking the information was a previous tenant of X property at X address for X amount of time.

          Commenter
          dusty
          Date and time
          August 18, 2014, 11:10AM

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