Could asbestos be in your rental properties?

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When you think of asbestos, what might come to mind is the danger it presents, but what most people don’t think of, is that it is also a naturally occurring mineral that despite its dangers is still being mined and used in countries around the world.

Thankfully, the UK is not one of those countries, as the substance has been completely banned from use or import since 1999. Yet despite its prohibition, there still remains a vast amount of asbestos within older properties.

So, where are you likely to find asbestos?

Typically, asbestos was used as an insulator and as a general building product during the 1950s-1980s, when the material was in high demand because of its multi-purpose properties.

Because it is strong, cheap and durable, it meant that asbestos was used to make a variety of products. Some of the most common products include: floor tiles, textured coatings, roofing sheets, roof tiles, cold water tanks, panels lining doors and stairs and as insulation on pipes, old boilers and hot water tanks.

What problems does asbestos bring?

Asbestos fibres, when released and inhaled can cause debilitating or fatal diseases including mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer and asbestosis. Within the UK there are around 5,000 deaths per year (13 every day on average).

Releasing asbestos fibres is extremely easy and can be done from unknowingly drilling a hole in a wall or removing a piece of board. Therefore, if you have a property that pre-dates the year 2000 and it needs work doing to it, bring in a professional to assess the risks and to identify if asbestos is present. Doing so, can give both yourself and your tenants’ piece of mind.

Legal responsibilities

The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 (CAR 2012), outline that ‘duty-holders’, which could be a landlord, have the legal obligation to assess and reduce the risks of asbestos in all communal areas of a property (e.g. entrance halls, stairways, roof spaces and out-houses).

Importantly, should asbestos be found in a property, then the type (chrysotile – white, crocidolite – blue and amosite – brown) along with the location of the asbestos should be recorded, and a plan put in place that can manage the risks. Should a tradesperson be brought on site, it is important that they are notified of the presence/potential presence of asbestos before they begin work.

Individual flats and houses are not covered by exactly the same requirements, apart from when a, tradesperson is working within the dwelling. In this instance, certain parts of the regulations do affect ‘duty-holders’ and an asbestos survey would be advisable to ensure they are kept out of harm’s way.

Taking the correct action if asbestos is present

Asbestos which is in good condition, sealed, known about and which won’t be disturbed during building works, doesn’t usually present a problem.

But if it’s not it’s important to turn to a UKAS accredited company to provide advice and potentially a survey. This way it can be properly identified and a recommendation made as to what to do next. The material may need to be removed and if so, an HSE licensed removal contractor should be able to do this competently.

For more information on asbestos click here.

Alternatively, Pennington Choices can also assist in asbestos surveying or sampling, and can be reached on: 0800 883 0334 or emailed at info@pennington.org.uk

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