Who Does the Control of Asbestos Regulations Apply to?
Estimated reading time 8 minutes
Asbestos is a hazardous substance, that up until 1999, was regularly used in the construction of homes and workplaces. Seen as a great insulator, and one that exhibits good fire protection attributes, many developers chose it as a great option to help keep people’s homes safe and warm.
Unfortunately, the risk posed to health by asbestos was so great that eventually, it was banned. This doesn’t mean we are fully rid of it though. Many older buildings still have asbestos materials contained within them meaning specific regulations are now in place for the handling of asbestos and how people are protected from it.
The Control of Asbestos Regulations apply to landlords and building owners but not specific to residential properties, except in certain areas.
In this blog, we look at the Control of Asbestos Regulations, what they are and who they apply to so that people remain safe and free from the worry that they may aggravate a dangerous material.
What is the control of asbestos regulations 2012?
There are a variety of regulations relating to asbestos but in this blog, we will focus on the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012.
These have been gradually altered over time with the control of asbestos regulations 2006 being the iteration before the one we see being used now.
The control of asbestos regulations is not aimed at individual properties but covers businesses and the shared areas of domestic residences in blocks of flats. This will mean stairways, boiler rooms, lifts and lift shafts, foyers, corridors, and more are all included within the regulations. It ensures that tenants have their risk of exposure to asbestos minimised and that where asbestos is present, it is monitored, repaired, or removed where appropriate.
The property that is lived in – the flat itself – is not covered, nor would rooms that are shared by more than one household be included in the regulations. This would mean shared bathrooms, kitchens, and communal dining rooms are all excluded from the rules set out in this legislation.
This means landlords have a responsibility to ensure that the areas covered are safe, compliant, and maintained correctly.
Who is responsible for the control of asbestos regulations 2012 in my property?
The property itself is not covered by these regulations but the shared areas are, so this can alter who has the responsibility for ensuring the regulations are met. The duty of adherence will either be that of the landlord or freeholder, or a specific organisation that has a clear responsibility for the property management and maintenance. In this blog, to help assist the landlords whose remit it is, we will base the regulations on being the responsibility of the landlord. This would put the landlord in the position of duty holder and therefore mean they are responsible for organising full compliance with the Control of Asbestos Regulations.
What are a landlord’s control of asbestos regulations requirements?
As the landlord and duty holder, you have specific responsibilities. Where asbestos is present, you are required to:
- Determine if asbestos is present and take reasonable steps to discover its presence.
- Assess the risk of aggravation, its current state, and any future movements that may disturb it.
- Create an action plan to help minimise risk and regularly review it
- Provide relevant information to others who are likely to disturb the asbestos.
You may have recognised that specific requirements relate to the movement or aggravation of the asbestos. This is because asbestos in a dormant state poses much less risk than asbestos that has been moved, agitated or altered. The safest way to operate is to assume that asbestos is present unless documentation proves otherwise.
Of course, as a landlord, you may not be fully versed in how to best work with asbestos, so how do you ensure that each of the four requirements above are met?
How to determine if asbestos is present
To determine if any asbestos is present in the shared areas of your tenant’s accommodation you will need to book a specific type of survey. These will detect whether asbestos-containing materials are present. There are two surveys available and not only will they detect asbestos, but also illustrate the risk it poses.
Firstly, there is the management survey. This finds the asbestos-containing materials that could be damaged by normal use. It will involve a small amount of aggravation to the areas in order to assess whether there is a risk to occupants and whether there is any need for work to take place to keep the area safe and operating as it should.
The second option is the refurbishment survey, also known as a demolition survey. This is necessary when part of the building requires either an improvement, a development or even a demolition. It will be used to find all asbestos-containing materials and will involve an intense inspection where the areas are severely impacted and as a result, see severe aggravation of the asbestos. Once this survey has been completed, the building must be certified as safe for people to be occupying it again. Without that certification, the property is no longer safe.
These surveys allow for the risk to be assessed too, meaning you tick off two of your requirements in completing them.
Creating an action plan to minimise asbestos risk
There should now be a plan drawn up to show how the risk of asbestos will be managed in the areas of the tenanted properties where the regulation applies.
This should focus on three key points.
- Monitoring the condition of condition of any asbestos and the areas it is in.
- Properly maintaining the asbestos.
- Providing regularly updated information to tenants, workers, and other people frequenting the property about the asbestos, its condition, its location and any notes relating to surveys conducted that may need to be passed on.
It is your responsibility as a landlord to ensure the items identified and the safety measures outlined are adhered to. This keeps you in line with the regulations and helps you avoid severe penalties. These plans should be regularly reviewed with a year between them deemed as sufficient. Just be aware that there may be cause to do them more frequently in some cases. It should also be noted that whilst the landlord has significant responsibility, each occupant has their part to play too. The regulation states that “every person must cooperate with the duty holder to comply with the duties set out in this regulation.”
Who should carry out an asbestos survey?
Even though it is the landlord’s responsibility, this is a serious issue and must only be completed by specialists trained in the handling of asbestos and assessing its risk.
What is the penalty for not complying with the control of asbestos regulations?
If you do not provide a suitable action plan/risk assessment for the asbestos within the property, you could find yourself facing a fine of up to £20,000 and even six months in prison.
Where the breach is deemed serious enough, there is currently no limit on how high the fine can go and a prison sentence can be as long as two years.
Other landlord obligations relating to asbestos
The control of asbestos regulations are not the only ones you should become fully knowledgeable of. Landlords have four other key regulations that must be adhered to:
- Environmental Protection Act 1990: If damaged asbestos is found in residential property and if what is known as “statutory nuisance” is discovered, prosecution could follow.
- Housing Act 2004: Asbestos is listed as one of twenty-nine hazards listed in the Housing Health and Safety Rating System. The local authority is obliged to inspect and review housing conditions and identify any hazards. If asbestos is found, it will be graded and be deemed to either pose a significant risk or a minor risk. All significant risk properties will have enforcement action taken against them to rectify the situation.
- Defective Premises Act 1972: Landlords have a duty of care to make sure that tenants and their visitors are safe from injury or disease that may be caused by property defects. Breaches could see severe penalties.
- Section 11 Landlord and Tenant Act 1985: All residential tenancies must have their structure and exterior of the property in repair. Where asbestos is found, a landlord must keep the area in repair.
Asbestos can make properties extremely unsafe if it is not managed properly and made compliant with the regulations. If you own properties as a landlord and are concerned about asbestos and rectifying it you could speak to Gaffsy. We buy any property making it quick and easy for you to sell your property portfolio. Regardless of the condition, the location, or the size of the property, our team can make you a genuine cash offer. Then, should you accept, we can have the entire process completed in just seven days! Why not contact our team today to discover the fee-free, hassle-free, stress-free way to sell your house fast