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Calling all commercial property landlords – do you have a plan in place to deal with asbestos?

12 October 2018 Property & Estate Agency Gillian Ralph

It is now illegal to use any form of asbestos in the construction or refurbishment of any buildings. However, asbestos was commonly used in construction in the past, and much of what was used is still in place.

If you are responsible for any non-residential premises, legally you have a duty to manage the risk from asbestos and must have a plan in place to deal with any asbestos.

This means landlords or those responsible for maintenance and repair of non-domestic premises (e.g. industrial, commercial or public buildings such as factories, warehouses, offices, shops, hospitals and schools). Non-domestic premises also include those 'common' areas of certain domestic premises, such as purpose-built flats or houses converted into flats. The common areas of these premises include foyers, corridors, lifts and lift-shafts, staircases, roof spaces, gardens, yards, outhouses and garages.

It is a criminal offence not to have such a register and could result in hefty fines.

The law requires the dutyholder to:

  • take reasonable steps to find out if there are materials containing asbestos in non-domestic premises, and if so, its amount, where it is and what condition it is in
  • presume materials contain asbestos unless there is strong evidence that they do not
  • make, and keep up-to-date, a record of the location and condition of the asbestos- containing materials - or materials which are presumed to contain asbestos
  • assess the risk of anyone being exposed to fibres from the materials identified
  • prepare a plan that sets out in detail how the risks from these materials will be managed
  • take the necessary steps to put the plan into action
  • periodically review and monitor the plan and the arrangements to act on it so that the plan remains relevant and up-to-date
  • provide information on the location and condition of the materials to anyone who is liable to work on or disturb them

If you are a landlord or have clear responsibility for the maintenance or repair of non-domestic premises, for example through an explicit agreement such as a tenancy agreement or contract, then it is vital you take asbestos seriously and have a plan in place.

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