Because asbestos was used more frequently in construction before the 1980s, older buildings are often associated with it. It was made illegal in the UK to use asbestos after it was banned in 1999. It is possible for asbestos to remain in ceilings, walls and floors of homes or buildings built before 1999. It is well-known that asbestos can pose serious health risks.
Most landlords will own buildings built before the ban, unless they have a portfolio that is comprised of new builds. This could expose your tenants to unknown risks, and open your business to lawsuits.
Asbestos can be found in soils and rocks, and it forms flexible crystals.
Because it was cheap, easy to obtain, low sound travel, and insulation well, asbestos was very popular. Because it is resistant to fire-catching and combusting, it was used for fireproofing.
It was not known at the time that asbestos could cause severe illness. Lung damage can result from breathing in asbestos fibres for long periods. Asbestosis is a disease that develops slowly over time. It’s often too late to be detected. Exposure to asbestosis can also lead to aggressive cancers. This could have potentially fatal consequences.
Where can you find asbestos?
It is possible to find asbestos in any type of commercial or residential building built before 2000. A survey found that 72% of tradespeople had encountered asbestos during their careers.
It may also be found in the following areas:
Heating and piping
Equipment for electrical use
Why landlords should care about asbestos?
If asbestos has been exposed to the air and has been agitated, it is not a danger. These aren’t visible to the naked eye so you should take every precaution if in doubt.
It is likely that you will need to maintain your buildings regularly. If asbestos is found in your buildings, it could put professionals as well as the occupants at risk.
You could face hefty fines and/or prosecution if you are aware that asbestos can cause harm to others in close proximity.
What landlords should do about asbestos?
You need comprehensive landlord insurance to protect your income and assets.
Identify and remove asbestos from your property as soon as possible. It is best to hire a professional asbestos removal company and surveyor. You shouldn’t attempt to remove asbestos by yourself.
If you don’t know if there is asbestos in the building you need to have clear rules against tenants drilling. This should be included in your written contract as well as relayed to your clients verbally.