As a landlord, you have a duty of care to your tenants to protect them from any harm that can be caused in your property. Common problems include damaged roofs, dangerous staircases and faulty light switches, but there may also be things you are unable to see easily. That’s right: we’re talking about asbestos.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous mineral that was widely used in construction between the 1950s and 1980s. Due to its resistance to heat, electricity and corrosion, asbestos was used in insulation, fireproofing and other building materials.
The term asbestos actually refers to six types of asbestos. The six types of asbestos are actinolite, amosite, anthophyllite, chrysotile, crocidolite and tremolite.
If asbestos fibres are inhaled or ingested, asbestos exposure can lead to long-term health risks, including cancer. Asbestos exposure is the primary cause of mesothelioma cancers (cancer in the lining of the lung or abdomen). It can also cause lung, ovarian and laryngeal cancer, as well as asbestosis.
Asbestosis is a serious lung condition caused by exposure to asbestos. Although it is rare, it is a long-term condition and there is no cure. Symptoms of asbestosis include shortness of breath, persistent coughing, fatigue and chest pain.
The use of asbestos was banned in the UK in 1999 so it is likely that asbestos is still present in most buildings constructed before the millennium. The only way to identify asbestos is through asbestos testing whether at a lab or by getting a professional in to do an asbestos survey.
Landlords are legally obliged to minimise the risks of exposure to asbestos under the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006. The individual terms will vary based on the tenancy agreement or contract in place. Usually, they will be responsible for maintaining all of the non-domestic areas of the property they are letting out including foyers, corridors, stairwells, loft space, sheds garages etc.
If you are a building owner however, you have a duty to manage any asbestos in that building.
According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), there are five steps you should complete with regards to asbestos:
According to asbestos.com, if the asbestos is in good condition, it may be safer to leave the materials containing asbestos "undisturbed", or to "encapsulate them with a sealant."
In the event that the asbestos is in poor condition, asbestos removal should be investigated. Even brief exposure to asbestos can be dangerous so it is prudent to get a specialist in to remove it. Speak to your local council to get more information about the removal and disposal.
According to the asbestos removal company Malrod, asbestos removal typically costs anywhere between £200 to £2,500+ depending on the size of the area.
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Alison Wild BCom (Hons), MAAT, MATT, Taxation Technician is a highly respected industry professional who has been working with and advising SMEs in areas including tax, pensions, insurance and marketing for over 25 years. She is a member of the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) and Association of Tax Technicians (ATT) and also has 20 years' experience as a residential landlord.
Date: October 26, 2023
Category: Commercial Property