Under Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) regulations, it is assumed that any residential building built before 1981 has asbestos-containing materials present. For individuals and families renting homes and apartments built before this time, this might cause some anxiety.
Fortunately, landlords are required to test for and notify tenants of the presence of asbestos in older homes. If asbestos is found in an older residential structure that you occupy, your landlord must alert you to the fact.
If the asbestos is not in a hazardous condition, your landlord should warn you of the potential danger that you might face if the asbestos-containing material is disturbed. According to the EPA, your landlord must inform you about the location and physical condition of the asbestos-containing material, and stress the need to avoid disturbing the material. If the asbestos-containing products are friable, allowing fibers to be released into the air, you might be able to break the lease and move or withhold some portion of the rent until the asbestos is removed or the structure is made safe and habitable.
If you have been exposed to asbestos in your home and your landlord knew (or should have known) about the possibility of exposure to the substance, they could be held liable for any illness you develop. If you believe your landlord has not warned you about the existing danger of asbestos in your home, or has failed to do something about the situation if they are aware, do not hesitate to contact an experienced asbestos attorney. They will be able to accurately assess your situation based on your lease, state laws, and OSHA regulations.