I’ve recently bought a property at auction that I plan to renovate to rent, and on further inspection I think it might have asbestos-based ceiling tiles (oh joy!). What’s the protocol?
Annoyingly, this could actually be quite a substantial problem, depending on the circumstances. As a landlord, you may be open to prosecution is a tenant, resident, workman or visitor is at risk of, or exposed to, asbestos on your property.
Under Regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012, landlords have a duty to minimise the risks of asbestos exposure to their tenants. You may be open to prosecution is a tenant, resident, workman or visitor is at risk of, or exposed to, asbestos on your property.
Firstly, whatever you do, don’t attempt to remove or damage the tiles in anyway yourself. Unbroken, asbestos tiles don’t pose any undue risk, but when you break the surface and allow the fibres to filter into the air, they can cause serious health risks.
You have a duty to ensure that a comprehensive risk assessment is carried out by a competent contractor (prodding the tiles isn’t enough!), who will provide you with a complete plan as to how to best deal with your asbestos-issue.
Don’t panic though - at least you’ve figured out the issue and can get a plan in place!
- Work out if it actually is asbestos that is present in your property, or if you’re just the lucky owner of some snazzy polystyrene ceiling tiles… assume guilty until proven innocent though, and treat the material as asbestos until you have proof otherwise.
- Find a local qualified surveyor and arrange for them to survey and sample your ceiling for asbestos. Make sure to check for accreditations to prove that they are certificated for asbestos survey work.
- The surveyor will provide a detailed document explaining the location and condition of the asbestos in your property, and assess the risk it poses. They are likely to assess that it poses a risk if:
- The material is damaged, frayed or scratched
- The surface is peeling or breaking
- The material is becoming detached from its base
- Protective coverings are missing: there is associated dust or debris near the material.
4. If the material poses a risk, the surveyor will advise a plan on how to remove it safely. If it is in good condition, it may be a better idea to leave it in place and prepare an ongoing management plan. Do bear in mind though, if the material is in a location that could be easily damaged (unlikely considering that it is on the ceiling!) you should consider having it removed to prevent future potential release of fibres.
If you are planning to leave the tiles in place, make sure that anyone who needs to know about the possibility for exposure to asbestos (maintenance workers etc) is notified before any work is carried out on your property.
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