Any person with responsibilities regarding the maintenance and repair of non-domestic (i.e. commercial properties and the common parts (e.g. hallways, stairs and landings) of residential apartment blocks) property has a duty to manage asbestos.
Under the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 there are two overriding duties placed on “duty holders”:
1. To determine if there is asbestos at the property
2. To manage any asbestos and this includes having an action plan in place to manage any risk.
A “duty holder” is every person who has means of access or egress to or from, or control of, the property. In other words owners of freehold commercial properties as well as tenants of commercial properties. In the case of blocks of flats, this is likely to be the landlord or management company depending on how the block is managed.
Essentially, such buildings, if built before 2000, should have a management asbestos survey, and management plan if necessary, in place.
There are two types of asbestos survey:
1. Management survey
Aims to locate the presence and extent of any suspected “ACMs” (asbestos containing materials) in the building which could be damaged or disturbed during normal occupancy, including foreseeable maintenance and installation, and to assess their condition.
Management surveys can involve a combination of sampling to confirm asbestos is present or presuming asbestos to be present. The areas inspected should include: underfloor coverings, above false ceilings (ceiling “voids”), lofts, inside risers, service ducts and lift shafts, basements, cellars, underground rooms, and so on (although this list is not exhaustive).
It should be noted that a refurbishment and demolition survey may be required when more intrusive maintenance and repair work will be carried out or for plant removal or dismantling.
2. Refurbishment and demolition survey
Required before any refurbishment or demolition work is carried out. The survey will be fully intrusive and involve destructive inspection (if required) to gain access all areas, with the aim of locating all asbestos in the property (or relevant part).
Failure to comply with the regulations is a criminal offence punishable by fine and/or a custodial sentence so this is something that has to be taken seriously.
For more information you can visit www.HSE.gov.uk which has guidance on managing and controlling asbestos.
Although every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided in this article is accurate and correct, the information provided does not constitute any form of advice. Please note: this article only applies to England and Wales as property in Scotland and Northern Ireland is subject to different rules.