If you are a landlord, you should assume that any property built before 2000 has asbestos. This is the safest option as the material was widely used in new buildings right up to its ban 1999.
If there are Asbestos Containing Materials (ACMs) in the property, they don’t necessarily have to be removed, but they do need to be managed. Most undisturbed asbestos is safe as it only becomes dangerous when the fibres become airborne and are inhaled at which point it can cause asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. The effects are irreversible and take over a decade to appear.
If the ACM undamaged then it can most likely be labelled or sealed. This is often the safest option as it avoids the risk of damaging it during removal. Asbestos that is already damaged may have to be removed however.
Most work involving asbestos will require a contractor who is licensed by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE). This ensures that the workers, and the tenants are protected by proper health and safety procedures.
A license is required to work on the following types of asbestos:
- Loose fill lagging insulation
- Lagging and sprayed insulation
- Asbestos insulation
- Asbestos insulating board
- Asbestos coating
- Loose asbestos dust and small pieces of debris.
Some work can be carried out by an unlicensed contractor, but still requires the HSE is notified. This is called non-licensed notifiable work. The following kinds of asbestos usually come under this category.
- Asbestos paper, felt and cardboard products in a poor condition.
- Textured decorative coatings in poor condition.
- Asbestos cement in poor condition.
Even when an unlicensed contractor can be used, precautions still have to be taken to minimise the risk involved, such as workers having training to work with asbestos and having a medical examination.
For non-licenced work, it is sensible to have a licensed contractor to ensure the work is done safely, and any complications can be dealt with immediately.