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Asbestos
The Material, Dangers, Regulations, and
what it all means for you

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The Material

Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous mineral that was once revered as a wonder material due to it’s excellent heat and sound insulation, resistance to water, electricity and chemicals, and several other favourable factors. As a result of these properties it was used on an industrial scale in the construction industry from the mid 1800s until bans on its use began in 1985 until it was finally totally prohibited in 1999 - this makes it highly likely that if your property or home was built before the year 2000 it has/had asbestos containing materials (ACMs) in it.

It’s Uses

Due to its wonder material status, asbestos was used widely throughout the construction industry for both domestic and commercial properties, it uses including but not being limited to:

Commercial property: Domestic property:

The Dangers

The risks of exposure to asbestos are severe and often deadly. Asbestos exposure is caused by disturbed or damaged Asbestos Containing Materials (ACMs) releasing fibres into the air, which are then in turn breathed into the lungs. On average, it takes around 20-30 years for diseases caused by asbestos to become apparent, so many people with the diseases don’t know until the sickness is serious. Malignant diseases with a definitive link to asbestos exposure include:

  • Mesothelioma
  • Lung Cancer
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Laryngeal cancer

According to the Health and Safety Executive in the UK 5000 workers a year are still dying due to asbestos related diseases, that’s more than people killed on our roads annually.

The Regulations

The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 set out the requirements around asbestos, it’s more notable sections for landlords and building owners being Part 2 Regulation 4 Duty to manage asbestos in non-domestic premises, which outlines various key rules such as:

Who has the duty to manage asbestos

The duty holder is described as the person or company who clearly is responsible for the maintenance of the property, as stated in a contract or tenancy agreement. If there is no contract or tenancy then it’s every person who has control of the permission or a means of access or exit the premises.

What the duties are

The duty holder is required to manage the risk from asbestos in the premises by taking reasonable steps to find out if there is Asbestos Containing Materials (ACMs) in the property, by having a suitable and sufficient assessment carried out to see if asbestos is or is likely to be present in the premises.

If asbestos is identified in the property, the risk of anyone being exposed to fibres released from the material must be assessed and a detailed plan of how these risks will be managed must be made, carried out, and periodically reviewed to ensure it is kept relevant and up to date.

Information on the location and condition of the ACMs must be kept in an up-to-date record which must also be provided to anyone who is liable to work on/near them and potentially disturb them.

Another requirement is that the assessment must be updated if there is reason to suspect that is no longer correct (ie a known asbestos containing material worsens in condition) or there has been a large change to the premises (ie change of building use).

Asbestos Management Surveys are a widely accepted, easy and efficient way to fulfill the requirements set out in the Control of Asbestos legislation while causing minimal disruption to both the everyday use of the building(s) and the duty holders' schedule.

Easy EPC’s Asbestos Surveyors hold the necessary qualifications to skillfully and efficiently survey a wide range of both commercial and domestic properties to identify, map, & sample potential asbestos, assess the risks, recommend action, and present all of this information and more in a clear, easy to understand report. To learn more about Asbestos Management Surveys please see “The Surveys” section below, or to request your free, no obligation asbestos management survey quote right now you can either fill in our contact form, or call our freephone 0800 170 1201 to speak to one of our admin team (Office Hours are Mon - Fri 9-5:30 excl. Bank Holidays).

In the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 Pt 2 Reg 5 & Pt 2 Reg 7 it is also set out that in regards to refurbishment and demolition work an employer must not undertake any work (including maintenance) that is liable to expose employees to asbestos without having a suitable and sufficient asbestos assessment (including information on if it is present, what type of asbestos it is, in what material it is contained, and what condition it is in) and written plan detailing how the work is to be carried out and kept at the premises where the work is being carried out for the whole time it is being carried out. In addition to this it states that in cases of final demolition or major refurbishment the plan must specify that asbestos must be removed before any major works begin, unless the removal would cause greater risk than if it were left alone. Instructing an Asbestos Refurbishment and/or Demolition Survey is the highly recommended and most common and easy way to comply with these regulations. To learn more about Asbestos Refurb/Demo Surveys please see “The Surveys” section below, or to request your free, no obligation asbestos survey quote right now you can either fill in our contact form, or call our freephone 0800 170 1201 to speak to one of our admin team (Office Hours are Mon - Fri 9-5:30 excl. Bank Holidays).

What buildings are affected

As well as all non-domestic properties built before 2000, The Health and Safety Executive also informs us that the “common areas” of certain domestic premises are also affected by these regulations. “Common areas” include hallways, lifts and shafts, stairwells, roof spaces, gardens, outhouses, and garages in properties like flat blocks and houses converted into flats, and therefore domestic landlords must also be aware of the regulations.

Shared areas such as bathrooms, kitchens, and lounges in properties like shared houses and sheltered accommodation are not affected by The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012.

The Surveys

Management

Previously referred to as a type 2 asbestos survey, the objectives of Management Surveys are to locate the presence of any asbestos containing materials (taking samples* for testing where necessary), to thoroughly check the extent of any asbestos present and fully assess its condition so we can provide a comprehensive risk assessment. A management survey is fairly straightforward, requiring the minimum of intrusion or disruption to your ongoing activities.

*We always take samples from the most visibly unobtrusive areas possible and the majority of the time it is possible to take samples in a way that leaves no visible mark on the surface, however sometimes for smooth hard surfaces a 50p size disk may need to cut out, in these cases we will then fill and then paint the hole so it is as close a match to its surroundings as possible.

Refurb and Demo

Refurbishment and Demolition Surveys (which were previously known as a type 3 asbestos survey) have the goal of identifying (and testing where necessary), thoroughly checking the extent of, and fully assessing the risks presented by asbestos in the property, giving special attention to any areas that will be disturbed during the planned works or demolition, the report will give clear advice on what to do about any asbestos prior to and during the planned works or demolition. Due to the thorough nature of the survey, Refurbishment and Demolition Surveys are much more intrusive than Management Surveys, meaning that in order to locate and assess all asbestos containing materials – as far as is practicable – our surveyor may have to damage some areas in order to gain access to hard to reach parts of the building. In all instances the surveyor will keep you fully informed of any disruption this is likely to cause you or your staff. As the extent of damage required varies greatly from building to building this is something we will analyse and discuss with you on the day before commencing work.

Part Refurb & Demo

If a property is only having a section of it refurbished or demolished then we are often able to provide a “Part” Refurbishment and/or Demolition Survey that targets only the areas specified in the planned works, which is a great way to save on money, time, and disruption.

Roof

Asbestos roofs are very common due to the great thermal and fire retardant qualities of asbestos, causing it to be used extensively for roofing and insulation. We can offer roof surveys for many reasons, from a potential buyer requesting it to it being part of a condition survey.

Samples

If you do not wish to have a whole survey of a property conducted, we can quote to take samples from any areas that you suspect to be contaminated with asbestos. Please get in touch if you wish to get a sample quote, or have any questions.

What it means for you

As a landlord

Commercial Properties

Depending on your lease/tenancy contract agreement with your tenants, you may be legally responsible for having an up-to-date Asbestos Management Survey if you are responsible for the property’s maintenance and repair. If your tenant is responsible for the maintenance and repair of the property then unless stated otherwise in your tenancy agreement or contract they are legally responsible for the Asbestos Management Survey, and if you have multiple tenants then they will each be responsible for the Asbestos Management Survey for their own sections of the property, however you will be responsible for any common areas such as hallways, entrance halls, stairwells, etc.

If your property is currently unoccupied then you as the building owner are responsible for having a Management Survey in place that is up-to-date and reviewed regularly.

If asbestos is identified in your property then it must be managed (kept in good condition, sealed, or removed, and it and it’s survey reviewed regularly) and the asbestos survey must be shown to anyone who may come into contact with any Asbestos Containing Materials (ACMs), for example tradespeople and builders.

Domestic Properties

If your domestic properties (such as a block of flats or house converted into flats) have common areas such as shared hallways, entrance halls, stairways, lift shafts, garages, etc. then this is counted as “commercial” and also requires an Asbestos Management Survey (and Fire Risk Assessment).

If asbestos is identified in the common areas of your property then it must be managed (kept in good condition, sealed, or removed, and it and it’s survey reviewed regularly) and the asbestos survey must be shown to anyone who may come into contact with any Asbestos Containing Materials (ACMs), for example tradespeople and builders.

As a Property Owner

Commercial Properties

If you own and occupy your own commercial property (i.e. a warehouse that you run a business out of) then you are legally responsible for having an up-to-date and regularly reviewed Asbestos Management Survey in place for the property and managing the Asbestos Containing Materials (ACMs).

Domestic Properties

If you own and occupy your own domestic property (ie a house that you own and live in) then you are not legally required to have an Asbestos Management/Refurbishment/Demolition Survey, however due to the severity of the risks posed by exposure to asbestos and the huge likeliness that it is present in any building built or refurbished before the year 2000 many people choose to have their property surveyed for peace of mind and health.

It is particularly advised to get an asbestos survey prior to any refurbishment or demolition works that could potentially disturb Asbestos Containing Materials and cause asbestos exposure to yourself and/or the trades people working on your property. Asbestos exposure kills 20 trades people per week on average according to the Health and Safety Executive, so by having an Asbestos Management Survey of the property (or a Refurbishment/Demolition survey in cases of large works) then trades people can stay safe and know what materials to avoid disturbing during their work on your property.

If you are a property owner wanting to sell your domestic property, please be aware that if you know of asbestos in your property then you must inform potential buyers of this, according to the Property Misdescriptions Act (2013).

As a Property Buyer

If you are buying a commercial property that was built or refurbished prior to the year 2000 then you should be aware that you (or your tenants depending on your future lease/tenancy agreements) will legally hold the duty to manage asbestos in the building, for both general use and occupation and cases of refurbishment and demolition. To learn more about The Duty to Manage Asbestos please see “The Regulations” and in particular “What the duties are”, which you can find further up on this page.

If you are buying a domestic property then there is no legal obligation for you to get a domestic asbestos survey*, but considering the seriousness of the health complications that asbestos exposure causes it is highly recommended to request an Asbestos Management Survey from the seller or instruct your own to see if there’s any asbestos in the property so that you don’t get any nasty surprises in the future - especially if you are planning to refurbish or demolish part or all of the property, or if a RICS property surveyor has already highlighted potential asbestos in the property.

In many cases an Asbestos Management Survey paired with quote(s) for removal or encapsulation of any asbestos found in the property can be used to negotiate the prices of a property you are looking to buy, saving you money as well as saving you from accidental exposure or finding out after you have bought the property.

*If you are buying a block of flats or a house converted into flats with the intention to become a landlord and rent them out, then you will be legally responsible for having an up-to-date Asbestos Management Survey for the common areas of the property (hallways between flats, stairwells, garages, lift shafts, etc.), as these areas are seen as commercial spaces.

For more information on Asbestos Surveys with Easy EPC please click here to visit our asbestos survey page, or alternatively you can contact 0800 170 1201 and ask for Chloe to speak to our Asbestos Services Manager.

For more landlord resources and information click here.
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